Is MMS killing the postcard industry?

Is it just me or is the postal service having a rough time of it of late. First of all their main market dwindled massively when email began. Then, to top it off, Fox has just reported that MMS is killing the postcard industry.

According to the digital measurement firm comScore photo messaging climbed 60 per cent in the US and 16 per cent in Europe last year and summer holidays are apparently the reason.

60 per cent does seem a lot to blame on holiday snaps rather than the technology finally being adopted and I’ve not seen figures from postcard makers saying they’ve seen a corresponding reduction in sales. According to the release pasted onto Fox News:

As the mercury climbs in the summer months, so does the usage of photo messaging in the United States, where for the past three years, photo messaging rates have been higher than average in July and August.

“Summer vacations provide the perfect context for photo messaging, as the utility of instantly sharing a holiday moment with loved ones is undeniably compelling,” commented Mark Donovan, senior vice president, comScore Mobile Products. “The cameraphone could replace the postcard as the preferred mode to say ‘wish you were here,’ as even parents and grandparents are snapping and sending photos from their mobile devices.”

Admittedly I’m both cheap and lazy so rarely do either but a quick straw poll of friends suggest it might be true. At least they’ll arrive before you get back.

It would also be good to see the figures once new legislation comes into force to reduce the cost of sending an MMS from oversees.

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  • http://whatleydude.vox.com James Whatley

    First off

    “Fox has just reported that MMS is killing the postcard industry…”

    FOX?! Do me a favour… and MMS is SO unreliable I'd sooner send a postcard.

    …although – and I've hawked this around a few places now (I'm looking at you Moo.com & ShoZu) wouldn't it be GREAT if I could *actually* send a physical postcard from my phone.

    Snap – add copy – add address – send to ShoZu/Moo
    ShoZu/Moo receive – print – send

    Digital -> Tangible

  • http://freshplastic.vox.com Anthony

    I don’t think I’ve ever sent a postcard (I’m both cheap and lazy too!) But I’ve started sending MMSes when I’m away as on my network they cost the same as sending a text message. Seems like a no brainer – send a picture and loads of writing for 25p or er, just send a short message for 25p…

  • http://14sandwiches.com MartinSFP

    Given the state of the postal service these days I'd prefer something digital than tangible. None of my postcards from Turkey last year have arrived ten months on! I wrote about FriendFeed and similar services being useful as a postcard replacement here:
    http://14sandwiches.com/2008/06/23/friendfeed-t

    That postcard printing idea is brilliant though!

  • Mike42

    Oh genius, Mr Whatley. I would pay

  • Njar

    where have you guys been for the past 4 years?! There have been around half a dozen MMS to postcard services out and about over this time – some of them exceptionally good.

    MMS for various technical and interconnect reasons is not likely to ever be as reliable as SMS. Within the UK it's very reliable now and if the user is roaming on a decent network, the chances are it'll work.

    The argument about MMS growth being attributed to holidays, and that MMS will sound the death knell for postcards is all crap!

    Who between the ages of 15 and 35 actually sends: Postcards/Letters/Christmas Cards/Paper Invites? We're the digital comms generation. Paper is too analogue.

  • nacho

    Say what? MMS? Does that work? Since when? Last time I looked it was operator/handset dependent so not reliable at all. Ages ago, I tried to send a MMS from a Sony Ericsson in O2 to another SE in O2, Both phones exactly the same model, with proper settings requested from O2 for the test, it did not work. O2 apologised blah blah, I gave up.
    I rather send postcards, or nothing at all

  • http://whatleydude.vox.com James Whatley

    EXACTLY!

  • Mike42

    @Njar: Not MMS to postcard, more like photo>postcard service. As an addition to ShareOnline or ShoZu as James said.

    MMS would be complete rubbish printed out postcard-size (no wonder they failed if they ever existed).

    You need MP-resolution, not kb resolution. Integrated. Payment method stored. Frequent addresses stored ( 'Gran' / 'Mum' / 'Honey' / 'Loosers in office')

    Maybe even pre-filled text blocks: “Nyaa nyaa see me on the beach. Wish you were here – NOT!” or “Dear Gran, here are some lovely piccys of the children on the beach”.

    The icing on this mashup cake would be a geotagged reference to where the image was taken.

    Ooooooh……

    /m

  • http://whatleydude.vox.com James Whatley

    Mike's nailed it. That's exactly what I'm talking about.

    Have also thrown this conversation at the people at Moo too.

    So fingers crossed!

  • Njar

    You heathens!

    Peer to peer MMS in the UK has rocketed over the past few years, as have wholesale volumes.

    The networks still have much work to do, but the simple fact remains that there isn't a better way to communicate multimedia content between remote handsets. SMS was pretty rubbish in the olden days, and it's now totally stock solid. There are low level reasons why MMS isn't as solid, but I'll not bore you..

    We need to embrace the MMS….

  • http://www.technokitten.com technokitten

    sms stabbed the postcard in the heart.
    Flickr, shozu, Facebook et al finished it off.
    I still like getting a postcard from my family when they're on holiday but the sense of 'going away' is not really there any more as we're constantly in touch via our mobiles so there's less need to send a postcard as it's quite likely we'll be chatting, facebooking, emailing, im'ing or texting whilst I'm away anyway unless I've deliberately turned my digital life switch to OFF. And that doesn't happen very often!

  • Mike42

    But don't you think there's a market for combining the two?

    The creativity, personalisation, 'ME' factors of the mobile-generated photo (Location – I was here – now – so was everyone else) along with the convenience / immediacy *Moment* of 'click-note-send'?

    A mass-market postcard benefits from the personal handwriting on the back to make the emotional connection, to give it currency. The mobile-generated image would do the same for the mobile postcard. and it's *tangible*. The recipient can hold it, pin it up, pop it in an album or shoebox. Make the font handwritten, Comic MS, something like that. Teach it my handwriting style, Highlander-property-deeds-like ;-)

    The MMS or emailed image is nice, but in being so easy to send, so intangible, so deletable, it looses a lot.

    We received a heartfelt, handwritten thank-you note today in the post. It's on the mantlepiece now. No email or MMS or MoSoSo posting could ever convey the same emotion and connection.

  • http://www.technokitten.com technokitten

    We still send birthday cards; a postcard is still nice to receive; I still write letters to my Mum and enjoying receiving hers; so yes, there's still a market. But it's nothing like the heyday of my childhood holidays when I would send everyone in my family a postcard. Then it was *the done thing*. It just isn't any more. I can't actually remember the last time I sent anyone a postcard, it's so long ago.

    I think there are times when a completely personalised, print-on-demand postcard will be the right thing, but it still loses its edge unless it's hand-written or at least hand-signed. A digital signature just doesn't cut it but in certain circumstances, I guess it would do. I personally loathe Christmas cards that are auto-generated. Either send me a hand-written personalised Christmas Card, or don't bother thanks.

    So yes, moo.com should probably do this unless the cost of production is prohibitive as it's a nice product fit for them. Would something like this cause a dramatic increase in postcard sending? Unlikely.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com smstextnews

    Njar, sorry for the delay in approving – if you had a disqus account your comments would go up right-away!

  • Njar

    no worries Ewan..

    I'm still bitter at MOMOLondon for making me get a Yahoo account to join the group, although it came in handy when flickr sold out. I'll probably get Disqus sorted at some stage :)

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com smstextnews

    Nay bother. I was at the drinks so didn't manage to approve your comments in a timely manner. I was enjoying the argument!

  • Jon

    MMS Postcard Service is availble in the UK on Vodafone for example. It's a superb service that allows you to send from any country supporting mobile data roaming with your network (most do). Not only that it goes first class from the UK to the recipient which means they should get it the next day. You can add your own text that is printed on the back of the postcard – just like the real thing! And several options for bordering your photo on the front if you wish. No Geotag.

  • http://www.wavingmadly.com Richard Martin

    I'm a bit late to this discussion. But you might be interested in wavingmadly.com: cameraphone to email picture postcards. Send to as many email recipients as you like.

  • http://www.wavingmadly.com Richard Martin

    I'm a bit late to this discussion. But you might be interested in wavingmadly.com: cameraphone to email picture postcards. Send to as many email recipients as you like.

  • http://www.wavingmadly.com Richard Martin

    I'm a bit late to this discussion. But you might be interested in wavingmadly.com: cameraphone to email picture postcards. Send to as many email recipients as you like.

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