Buoyed by early successes in Japan, multimedia messaging (MMS) on third-generation (3G) phones will help create a messaging market worth more than £31bn ($44bn) by 2006, according to new research.
In its Multimedia Messaging in Europe: Let the Fun Begin report analyst firm the Yankee Group has described the deployment of MMS as one of the most exciting advances in the history of the European mobile communications industry.
And research from investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (DKW) suggests that the fun has already started in Korea and Japan.
"Sceptical investors [in 3G services] should soon take comfort in the growing acceptance of picture messaging [still photo], emails [files attached] and internet browsing over mobile networks. As experience in Japan and Korea shows, the 'must have' applications are already here," the DKW report said.
The Yankee Group's report said that, although MMS implementation will require new investment in infrastructure, applications, terminals and systems integration, it is underpinned by a solid business case.
The analyst added that the business case for MMS at least partially justifies the heavy investments made by operators in Europe for 3G licences and services, which total more than £100bn across western Europe.
This is because the experts believe that MMS will make customers more loyal to operators and that they will be prepared to spend more to send pictures of friends and relatives via their phone than they would for SMS messaging.
The Yankee Group said that person-to-person messaging across all messaging system categories would generate £31bn ($44bn) in annual service revenues by 2006, almost a quarter of total revenues.
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