Sofia Digital said its Amigo MMS offering makes it possible to display pictures sent from an MMS mobile telephone on digital television using Multimedia Home Platform, which is an open standard for digital TV that is being used in Finland and Germany.
According to Sofia, MMS, which has been described as the next-generation of text messaging, offers both broadcasters and mobile operators potentially lucrative revenue streams because it allows pictorial content to be sent by consumers. Its system does not, however, presently allow broadcasters to send such messages to viewers.
"We expect MMS to become a big hit with mobile users and MMS and TV is a great fit because of the visual nature of television," said Visa Noronen, communications manager with Sofia Digital. "Amigo MMS will give TV companies and operators the opportunity to earn money from this by, for example, setting-up MMS-enabled television programmes and services and charging people for sending text and images to them."
Sofia plans to offer the service to television broadcasters and mobile operators across Europe, and Noronen told ElectricNews.Net that several such businesses have expressed interest in it. The system is currently being tested by Radiolinja, which is one of Finland's largest mobile operators.
Such an advance is likely to be welcomed by television companies who have already discovered that SMS can deliver unexpectedly high revenues.
Channel 4, for instance, received over 6.5 million SMS messages during the latest instalment of Big Brother. Around half of these were eviction votes, which cost around STG0.25 each, while the remainder were requests for Big Brother news, logos etc, which cost anywhere between STG0.25 and STG1.50 each.
According to Ashley Smith, senior research analyst with Dutch research company and consultancy Van Dusseldorp Partners, it is the latter type of services that broadcasters will embrace most when using MMS.
"Television companies will not be too keen to allow their shows to be taken over by MMS, which is, after all, a more visual medium than SMS. Although they will encourage viewers to send in pictures and messages via MMS, and charge them for doing so, they are more likely to push out content such as images from inside the Big Brother house or downloads of goals to viewers, which they can also make money from," said Smith.
Although Smith expects MMS offerings to be successful for television companies, he doesn't believe that they will eclipse SMS. "For simple procedures like vote in evictions then it is much easier to use SMS. Both SMS and MMS will co-exist for some time to come," he said.