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The new killer app is … MMS

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Ditch the iPhone and forget about social media, the new killer app is actually MMS, claims tech author and 3G strategist Tomi Ahonen.

Ahonen told an audience of digital and content executives at MipTV in Cannes that the humble mobile phone trumps iPhones, television and social media as the platform with greatest reach and built-in revenue.

"There are about 100 million iPhones on the platform. Now multiply it against all mobile phones. That's 2 per cent of your audience. If you develop an iPhone app and you are a media brand, you are deliberately ignoring 98 per cent of your available audience. That's a pretty rotten strategy in my mind," he claimed.

He added that with smartphones accounting for just 17 per cent of the world's handsets, the game has not yet changed enough to change the fundamentals.

"If you want to make money now, not some time in the future, stick to SMS and MMS," he said.

Conceding that apps would one day be huge, he said however that it would take at least ten years to get there.

Ahonen dismissed the power of Facebook and Twitter, positing that MMS has 2.4 billion active users today. "MMS is bigger than the total internet. The planet's biggest multimedia platform – that people actually pay for.

"If you want to know how to reach the world, it's not Twitter, not Facebook: it's MMS and its three time bigger than email,” he adds. He warned content players: "If you're in television today and you don't understand MMS, you're a dinosaur. You'll be out of business."

MMS's no-frills sibling, SMS, has 4.2 billion active users of text messaging and 1 in seven people are consuming media content on a mobile phone. "In India today, one-third of all SMS sent is media, not person-to-person messages. This is your future."

He highlighted that with 5.2 billion total mobile phone subscriptions globally – versus 1.7 billion TV sets – the small-screen synergies need to be exploited. Adding that the average person checks handset 150 times a day, once every six-and-a-half minutes.

He said that for "Gen Y", his research shows that "10 per cent of youth think it's okay to send text messages while having sex." Surely there is an app for that. ®

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