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Why Motorola, Ericsson and Siemens disagree with Nokia over EMS

Quite simple really

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We reported yesterday on Alcatel, Motorola, Ericsson and Siemens' new standard for enhanced SMS text messaging - EMS. EMS will allow you to send pics, music and animations over phones.

Intriguingly, however, Nokia - the biggest manufacturer of phones by some way - was not signed up to the standard. We asked it why and it told us that was because it already has its own open-source Smart Messaging system that does just as much as EMS.

Nokia said it has had this since 1997 and so doesn't wish to fit millions of new phones with the EMS standard. Besides, it says, EMS will be superseded at the start of next year by the MMS standard that will enable attachments to be sent over phones. And everyone is signed up to this standard.

Well, Motorola, Ericsson and Siemens have got back to us regarding Nokia position and have several interesting things to say about it.

Smart Messaging may be open source now but estimates of when it became open source vary from December last year to February this year. They claim Nokia only made it open source when the others' determination to go with the EMS standard was made clear.

It is also not entirely open source. It is semi-open according to an Ericsson spokesman. They can use it, yes, but they would still have to give a significant amount of sensitive material to Nokia in order to use it. Nokia was actually initially involved with EMS but later dropped out.

As for the claims that MMS will supersede EMS, that it agreed upon by all parties. The question is whether it is financially viable for manufacturers to pump out EMS phones for just six months. Yes, it is, they say (unsurprisingly).

MMS phones will be out at the end of this year and the start of the next, but the estimated time of EMS phones' prominence is put at a year. It is also useful, the three say, because it helps change consumer behaviour. "It's a small step to start sending pictures," said one spokesman.

Besides, he said, "it might be a good educational item". We're not so sure about that one.

So, in conclusion, EMS is probably worth it in terms of getting people used to it, shifting more handsets and testing technology. It's not worth it for Nokia though and so it, rightly, won't bother. We will have some disruption in that Nokia phones will only work with Nokia phones in this capacity while the others will inter-operate.

However, this will all be bye-the-bye when MMS kicks in in 2002. ®

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