Cambridge, UK Multimedia software developer 3GLAB has warned that consumers are so confused by the menu systems of MMS-enabled phones that they are unwilling to send photos via MMS to other phones.
The company also says that independent usability tests indicated that despite the big publicity regarding MMS, few were yet aware of what the term stood for.
While concurring that in the very early days of SMS there was some confusion about how short messaging could be used, Julian Harris, marketing manager and one of the co-founders of 3GLAB said "the difference now is that operators are actively looking to MMS as a serious revenue generator. It is being pushed by operators as the application to have for next generation phones, and nearly all mobile phone makers are now looking for consumers to upgrade their phones so that they can send images."
SMS almost crept up on operators and in its early days was not seen as the huge revenue generator it has become, Harris told CommsDesign.com.
In 3GLAB's tests, which took place in the company's usability testing suite here, members of the public were asked to take and send pictures using a variety of MMS-enabled mobile phones. Whilst testers found taking a photo with either phone relatively easy, sending the image to another phone was a much more difficult task, because menu systems on the phones did not tally with the consumers' expectations.
For example: phone menus described the picture messaging capability as either MMS or Multimedia, whilst UK operators market their offerings as picture messaging, media messaging, or photo messaging - none of which appear in the menu system of either phone.
When asked to send a photo, one tester commented: "I don't know what MMS means. I've never heard of it before." Another test subject replied: "Multimedia, I haven't got a clue. Bluetooth, I haven't got a clue. Infra-red, I'd imagine that's either someone with a similar phone that you can send it to, or maybe even a computer."
Steve Ives, CEO of 3GLAB, commented "our usability tests show that consumers are baffled by the terminology and design of today's MMS-enabled handsets. These results suggest that handset manufacturers and operators need to work hard to make MMS easier to use if they are to start building decent revenues."