Radio 1 Free MMS day: Great idea, 3 years too late

I saw a tweet from the Mobile Data Association this evening linking to a video of Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills explaining the BBC Radio 1 Picture Messaging Day.

The concept, as this MDA blog explains, is…

…to drive a high profile project which will educate and reinforce MMS messaging to a mass market in an entertaining and interactive way. In the same way the MDA helped to propel the growth of SMS text messaging, we now believe the emergence of increasingly sophisticated and affordable devices with intuitive MMS functionality should bring a surge in the use of richer media mobile messaging.

All the UK mobile networks are joining in — so it will be free to send an MMS, to Radio 1, on Friday 11th December. (WIN Plc are the aggregator behind the project).

Ostensibly the project will enable Radio 1 to compile a wickedly cool massive picture featuring your face — that, by the way, is what you’ve to MMS to the Radio Station on the day.

Just to be clear: You’ll be billed for sending MMS messages to anyone else. It’s only free to Radio 1 on that day.

Which, frankly, is a fat lot of good for the wider consumer.

The mobile industry — the mobile operators — (and to a lesser extent, the Mobile Data Association) — have handled the introduction and implementation of MMS with neolithic incompetence.

This is far, far too late.

Far too late.

THIS! From an industry that thought it would be a good idea to FUCK the consumer to the tune of FIFTY PENCE — read it and weep — FIFTY FLIPPIN’ PENCE — per shite small bollocks photo… the mobile operators deserve the absolute flop they got.

Oh MMS is reasonably popular, nowadays.

Now that generations of handsets have been sent out into the market with the correct settings, more or less. Now that mobile operators have actually got off their arses and interconnected.

But a public education project? Goodness me this is ridiculous, ridiculously late.

It is, of course, completely irrelevant to anyone with an iPhone or Android handset. MMS? What MMS? You can just email the photo. ;-)

Unfortunately the medium has a normob reputation of being absolutely useless — this isn’t quite the fault of the mobile operator per se — but when I take a 5 megapixel image and transmit it to your bollocks shitty small-screened Nokia 3600, yeah… the experience isn’t going to be very good at all.

Of course, now and again, there are moments where sending a photo to your friend with the shite mobile handset is necessary. So that’s when you need to use MMS.

My reading of the consumer marketplace is that they needed this effort from the MDA and the mobile operators about 3 years ago. Not now.

Still. Any assistance is useful, right?

And speaking of assistance, have you checked out getsettings.com? It’s the site run by the MDA that helps UK consumers get the right access settings for their network.

This is important, because the BOLLOCKS mobile industry couldn’t get its act together. Most reasonably modern handsets automatically acquire and select the relevant MMS/data gateways. But I meet too many normobs who ‘haven’t got MMS setup’ or who tell me that ‘it’s never worked for me’.

Only today I had a text from a reader who got his N900 today — but can’t connect to Vodafone’s data gateway for some reason.

This is simply ridiculous.

Again, I suppose it’s laudable that the MDA is doing something about it.

Pricing has always been a problem. Talk to most normobs and they’ll either tell you that MMS is ‘expensive’ or they’ll assume it’s not included in their price plan. Thankfully many monthly price plans nowadays lump SMS and MMS into one inclusive or flat rate fee. T-Mobile, though (as an example) still charges PAYG users 20p per MMS and 5p per text.

Which automatically tells the consumer that sending a photo is four times more expensive and should thus be used on ‘special occasions’.

Gahhh.

Here’s Scott Mills introducing the project:

And here’s the ‘MMS day’ site.

  • nacho

    MMS? wtf? are we in year 2000? fail!

  • http://www.mobileinc.co.uk/ Murat

    MMS usage is increasing year on year by MILLIONS. What happened to econmies of scale, why is the price still 35-40p?? Gee let me think of a good way to increase adoption……oh right yeah make it 15p. This issue pisses me off because that price drop enabled more brands/businesses/whoever to get involved and develop some decent stuff around it.

  • jamessimcock

    Surprised to see this rant popping up higher than the BBC's own page about this initiative in Google search, and as a BBC employee who helped work on this, I thought I ought to respond to some of the points you raise.

    “Just to be clear: You’ll be billed for sending MMS messages to anyone else. It’s only free to Radio 1 on that day. Which, frankly, is a fat lot of good for the wider consumer”.

    Radio 1 reaches millions of people every day, a majority of which you may describe as “Normobs”. There are of course some smartphone users, who like myself, have been emailing photos and uploading to the web for years – some of those long before the arrival of the iPhone and Android devices (are they “Abnormobs”?), but a lot of those folks (as you recognise in your post) don't know if they have the right settings and often don't even how to send a photo over the air.

    As a public service, the BBC has to do it's best to reach the widest possible audience – and helping show the less-technically savvy what is possible from their phones, beyond voice and SMS seemed like a pretty worthy thing to do. Throughout the day on Radio 1 we had presenters explaining how to send MMS and how to check their settings, and with any luck, there's now a lot more people in the UK starting to unlock a little more of the 'potential in their pockets'.

    “but when I take a 5 megapixel image and transmit it to your bollocks shitty small-screened Nokia 3600, yeah… the experience isn’t going to be very good at all”.

    Most mobile phones will give you the option to reduce the image size when sending an MMS to ensure it will be receivable at the other end. Sending 5 megapixel images is a bit pointless if the intention is to view on a screen that's less than 1 megapixel, no? Sure, it might be worthwhile if you're uploading to a photo sharing website, but that's a whole other level from the basic digital literacy this initiative was trying to help. “Bollocks, shitty Nokia 3600″? if all you knew how to do was call people or drop them a text, then actually this might seem an ideal little handset. Battery lasts way longer than an iPhone, it's far simpler to setup and make calls and much less likely to shatter when accidentally dropped. It's also a lot cheaper – and price is the most important factor when choosing a phone for a lot of people.

    “Most reasonably modern handsets automatically acquire and select the relevant MMS/data gateways. But I meet too many normobs who ‘haven’t got MMS setup’ or who tell me that ‘it’s never worked for me’.”

    Settings are still a problem for many. Take a previously contract handset and swap in a PAYG sim for instance and chances are your settings won't work anymore. Getsettings.org is a great idea therefore (although disappointed to see it's not really functional from a basic mobile browser).

    What was really interesting about the day, was watching the 10s of thousands of photos arrive and reading the comments that came with them. If you send an SMS to a friend or family member, then they know you, and don't need to see your face to understand your sentiment. For me the greatest learning of the day was to see how much more powerful shortform communication can be when you can see the sender's face. It's obvious really, mankind has had millions of years of communicating face to face, as opposed to more like 12 years of relying on 160 chars of thumbed abbreviations to get your point across.

    Maybe this was too late for those who've already purchased flat-rate data tariffs and are happily seeing their mobile devices as an extension of their online experience – but not every one sees the value in that yet, and I like to think we (and the MDA) might have helped just a little bit.

  • James Simcock

    Surprised to see this rant popping up higher than the BBC’s own page about this initiative in Google search, and as a BBC employee who helped work on this, I thought I ought to respond to some of the points you raise.

    “Just to be clear: You’ll be billed for sending MMS messages to anyone else. It’s only free to Radio 1 on that day. Which, frankly, is a fat lot of good for the wider consumer”.

    Radio 1 reaches millions of people every day, a majority of which you may describe as “Normobs”. There are of course some smartphone users, who like myself, have been emailing photos and uploading to the web for years – some of those long before the arrival of the iPhone and Android devices (are they “Abnormobs”?), but a lot of those folks (as you recognise in your post) don’t know if they have the right settings and often don’t even how to send a photo over the air.

    As a public service, the BBC has to do it’s best to reach the widest possible audience – and helping show the less-technically savvy what is possible from their phones, beyond voice and SMS seemed like a pretty worthy thing to do. Throughout the day on Radio 1 we had presenters explaining how to send MMS and how to check their settings, and with any luck, there’s now a lot more people in the UK starting to unlock a little more of the ‘potential in their pockets’.

    “but when I take a 5 megapixel image and transmit it to your bollocks shitty small-screened Nokia 3600, yeah… the experience isn’t going to be very good at all”.

    Most mobile phones will give you the option to reduce the image size when sending an MMS to ensure it will be receivable at the other end. Sending 5 megapixel images is a bit pointless if the intention is to view on a screen that’s less than 1 megapixel, no? Sure, it might be worthwhile if you’re uploading to a photo sharing website, but that’s a whole other level from the basic digital literacy this initiative was trying to help. “Bollocks, shitty Nokia 3600″? if all you knew how to do was call people or drop them a text, then actually this might seem an ideal little handset. Battery lasts way longer than an iPhone, it’s far simpler to setup and make calls and much less likely to shatter when accidentally dropped. It’s also a lot cheaper – and price is the most important factor when choosing a phone for a lot of people.

    “Most reasonably modern handsets automatically acquire and select the relevant MMS/data gateways. But I meet too many normobs who ‘haven’t got MMS setup’ or who tell me that ‘it’s never worked for me’.”

    Settings are still a problem for many. Take a previously contract handset and swap in a PAYG sim for instance and chances are your settings won’t work anymore. Getsettings.org is a great idea therefore (although disappointed to see it’s not really functional from a basic mobile browser).

    What was really interesting about the day, was watching the 10s of thousands of photos arrive and reading the comments that came with them. If you send an SMS to a friend or family member, then they know you, and don’t need to see your face to understand your sentiment. For me the greatest learning of the day was to see how much more powerful shortform communication can be when you can see the sender’s face. It’s obvious really, mankind has had millions of years of communicating face to face, as opposed to more like 12 years of relying on 160 chars of thumbed abbreviations to get your point across.

    Maybe this was too late for those who’ve already purchased flat-rate data tariffs and are happily seeing their mobile devices as an extension of their online experience – but not every one sees the value in that yet, and I like to think we (and the MDA) might have helped just a little bit.

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Nice one James — thank you for taking the time to reply. I was not attacking the BBC's participation — instead, the absolutely ridiculous efforts of the mobile industry to date.

  • jamessimcock

    I couldn't possibly comment on that… ;-)

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Well I think the BBC is a shining light in an often mediocre interactive industry.

  • jamessimcock

    Nice to hear, we do try our best. See what we did with the pics that came in: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/accessallareas/
    (we'll have a version of this on the mobile version of the site @ http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/radio1 next week)

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I shall take a look, very cool indeed!

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Nice one James — thank you for taking the time to reply. I was not attacking the BBC's participation — instead, the absolutely ridiculous efforts of the mobile industry to date.

  • jamessimcock

    I couldn't possibly comment on that… ;-)

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    Well I think the BBC is a shining light in an often mediocre interactive industry.

  • jamessimcock

    Nice to hear, we do try our best. See what we did with the pics that came in: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/accessallareas/
    (we'll have a version of this on the mobile version of the site @ http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/radio1 next week)

  • http://www.mobileindustryreview.com Ewan

    I shall take a look, very cool indeed!

  • http://www.advancedraidrecovery.co.uk Raid Recovery

    nice to watch this video which has clearly explained that how to send MMS

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