Video SMS, like Voice SMS, delivers an exciting service that works on any handset and any network.
Meanwhile, Multimedia Message Service (MMS) is mostly languishing. In the US and much of the world, MMS is used for picture mail but hardly anything else. There are several problems. In most markets, there are a dearth of MMS capable (and appropriately configured) handsets, there are interoperability issues between handsets, particularly with video support or the lack thereof, and in some markets there are interoperability issues between service providers.
So new, simple, inter-operable services have emerged. The first was Voice SMS, an audio messaging service that has taken off because it actually works with any handset and any network. I’ve written about Voice SMS several times in the past as it’s a cool service and we supply platforms to many of the vendors in this market.
Today we had our first press release on a new service, Video SMS. Maxis Communications, the leading operator in Malaysia, has launched their Maxis Video Avatar service in December, based on an application by NGC Systems and platforms from NMS Communications.
Like Voice SMS and unlike MMS, Video SMS is a messaging service that works with any handset. If both subscribers have 3G handsets, the service leverages the 3G network to deliver an actual video message. But in the more common case, where one or both of the subscribers are on 2G or 2.5G, the service still works. Instead of an actual video message, the 2G user generates and/or the 2G recipient receives a voice message with an animated gif image of a lip-sync'd talking avatar. If the recipient has a voice-only phone the service reverts to Voice SMS, but with a URL where recipient could view the lip sync'd avatar speaking the message if they can get web or WAP access.
From the user's point of view this is a cool new messaging service that serves the same needs as Voice SMS but with an added personalization element — animated avatars. From the operator's point of view, it's a new revenue source with both message revenue and content revenue, as avatars can be sold just at ringtones and wallpapers are sold.
The key take-aways:
- Easy user interface
- Simple useful service
- Connects with any phone on any network
Smart Communications in the Philippines has also launched this service to their 27M subscribers. As they put it:
Video Avatar is a new P2P 3G video messaging service that combines lip-syncing fun avatars and a 30 second recorded message to create an expressive and memorable video message.