The 8 million plus strong mobile subscriber market in India is set for a revolution. Thanks to the introduction of multimedia messaging service (MMS), touted as the next generation of short messaging service (SMS) on mobile.
Last week, for the first time in India, BPL Mobile launched MMS for its Mumbai subscribers. As the name suggests, MMS has the ability to send messages comprising a combination of text, sounds, images and video to MMS capable handsets. Till now, the mobile users had the option of SMS only where one could just send a message upto 160 text characters only.
Kunal Ramteke, Marketing Controller, BPL Mobile said, "We plan to roll out the MMS in Pune in a month's time. One can send or receive MMS message over web sites also. Even if the mobile device does not support MMS, the user gets an SMS message pointing to a URL where the message may be stored." The market potential for MMS is huge as over 70 Lakhs SMS based messages are estimated to be exchanged every day in India. The global figures stood at 19 billions SMS last year.
The transition from SMS to MMS is an important development from the brand promotion perspective as well. The possible examples of MMS based applications could include an ad with formatted copy supported by images and sound, and even a video clipping. Shripad Nadkarni, VP-Marketing, Coca Cola India said, "In our case, SMS has proved its efficacy in reaching out to the target consumer group. The availability of MMS gives us the option of increasing the scale of interactivity through the multi media interface and maximize the impact on the consumer. We would definitely like to use MMS for our brand promotion activities in future when it reaches the critical level of users in India which is going to take some time I think."
Nadkarni's apprehensions seems logical as till now only Philippines, Hong Kong and Singapore have MMS facility in the Asia-Pacific region. In fact, in a country like USA, even SMS is not yet so popular as in Europe or Asia-Pacific countries. The higher service charges along with expensive MMS compatible mobile handsets could be a deterrent initially for the growth of MMS in India.
But the future seems bright in the long run as BPL Mobile's CEO and President F B Cardoso said that studies have shown that by 2010 five out of six mobile messages will be MMS. Already people say that from SMS to MMS on mobile is similar to graduating to Windows from DOS on computers. Who knows MMS might also completely revolutionize the way we communicate now!