O2 launches MMS handsets


1 Nov 2002

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Media Messaging, O2’s multimedia messaging service (MMS), has been launched in Ireland (Thursday October 31). Although its MMS-enabled handsets were available to buy from that date, the company is advising that it will be mid-November before the service goes live, as remaining difficulties are still to be ironed out.

The launch comes hot on the heels of Vodafone’s announcement of its MMS service that is set to go live on 7 November. O2 is launching with two handsets. The Nokia 7650, a phone featuring a large colour screen and integrated camera, will be available to O2 customers for €399 with a post-pay contract and €549 for pre-pay customers. The Sony Ericsson T68i, a smaller handset with a colour screen, will be available for €399 with a post-pay contract. It will not be available for pre-pay customers. An optional camera attachment for the phone can be bought for €200. A third handset, the Sharp GX-1, will be made available in the coming weeks. The phone features a colour screen and integrated camera. No details on pricing for this handset are available yet.

O2 will charge a fee of 50c for each MMS message. Also included with the service is a library of online pictures that can be accessed, edited and forwarded to other users. An online storage facility allows users to store their own photos and create an online photo album.

O2’s new service is marginally more expensive than that offered by Vodafone, which charges its customers 19c for messages up to 1KB in size and 49c for messages of between 1 and 30KB in size. Picture messages will fall into the latter price bracket, meaning a difference in price of 1c per message between the two operators.

Vodafone launched its service under the brand name Vodafone Live! Part of the initiative is the revamping of its mobile portal, optimising it for use with multimedia phones. Vodafone launched three handsets with its new service. The Sharp GX10, a colour screen phone with integrated camera, is priced at €299 for post-paid customers and €549 for pre-paid customers. The Panasonic GD87, another colour screen phone with integrated camera, is available for €379 for post-paid customers and €579 for pre-paid customers. The aforementioned Nokia 7650 is selling for €379 for post-paid customers and €579 for pre-paid customers.

MMS is an attempt to follow on from the phenomenal success of short messaging service (SMS). Essentially, it bridges the gap between email and text messaging. Aside from text, users can also include images and audio in their messages. Further down the line, video will be included in the standard.

By Dick O’Brien