As its name implies, Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) is a way to send and receive a variety of multimedia content, including text, still images, video clips and audio to and from a mobile device. These content types also can be combined into a single message. For example, a photo can be paired with a few lines of text or audio clip to describe the image. MMS also can be used as an alternative way to deliver existing services, such as voicemail. And cameras in phones are making it easy to take a picture and use MMS to immediately send the photo elsewhere, such as to another cell phone, a PC or a blog. Although most MMS messages are exchanged between individuals, the technology increasingly is being used by companies to deliver mobile advertising and promotions.
MMS is similar to the popular Short Message Service (SMS), which supports text messages and content such as ringtones. Both services are widely supported by wireless operators and equipment vendors and are based on open standards to facilitate interoperability across different phone models and wireless networks. MMS messages can be exchanged even when the sender and recipient are on networks that use different technologies, such as GSM and CDMA, and this interoperability has been in place for a number of years. In 2004, 3G Americas co-created multi-technology MMS interoperability guidelines for the Americas. Interoperability is one of the many reasons why MMS is increasingly popular with wireless users in the Americas and throughout the world.
MMS helps introduce consumers to data services and thus sets the stage for adoption of 3G services such as streaming multimedia. Creating and sending an MMS message requires a wireless phone with a camera and MMS software. Camera phones are available in hundreds of models and at a variety of price points. In fact, camera phones increasingly are among the models that wireless carriers give away to attract new customers. Recipients can view and send MMS messages on a camera phone, but it is not required. For example, an MMS message sent to an older Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) phone without MMS would appear as a text message inviting the recipient to click on an embedded link to view the message on a Web site. An MMS message also can be sent to a PC, where the user would receive it as an e-mail.