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OK, so we know that voice is the killer app for mobile phones; SMS has got the young and blue collar trade sewn up; and ringtones and logos do a roaring trade in the consumer space too. We also know that WAP is cwap and that 3G is late. Very late. So what's next up on the mobile phone money-making menu?

Pictures. And colour pictures too, sent by our mobiles, or so Nokia and Yankee Group would have us believe. According to the research house, the next-gen multimedia messaging services (MMS) market will be worth $10bn in Europe by 2006.
Nokia says that half of its handsets will be MMS-enabled by 2003 ( Story: Nokia 7650: smart phone, shame about the price).

MMS technology is nearly there already - if not the infrastructure, or the handsets (and the latter will have to be much cheaper than currently envisaged). But you can see from the income generated by logos, ringtones, SMS etc. why industry players have such high hopes of raising their ARPUs (average revenue per user) through MMS-driven premium content.

However you don't need MMS, to make and send photos over your phone. You can do it today, so long as you have one of a long list of Nokia handhelds which support pictures (and SMS of course).

Welcome to EAt mY phOnE, a typographically-challenged consumer site operated by Cambridge, UK software house CISNet, which and its photo-by-SMS service.

CISNet is a specialist in imaging technology And it has worked out a way of preserving pretty good picture quality. Images are uploaded onto the site, converted into black and white and downloaded by SMS in various shades of grey onto the mobile. The charge is $2.00 for the US and £1.50 for the UK.

Is this the shape of things to come? No. But it is a neat intermediate technology, which offers a glimpse of how the market for MMS services could develop. ®

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On Wallace, Gromit and charging for content by PC and mobile phone
The future of SMS texting - EMS!

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