‘SMS 2.0’ with colour pictures to be launched by mInteraction

Source: nationmultimedia.com | View Online Article

Soon you will be able to send SMS with pictures, colour background and a ‘smiley face’ icon – probably making purely textual short messaging a thing of the past.

Published on September 5, 2007

Niklas Stalberg, executive chairman of mInteraction, a unit of the world’s second-largest advertising company WPP Group, said the firm planned to launch the so-called “SMS 2.0” services at the end of October or early November and expects to attract one million users in the Thai market over the following 24 months.

Thailand will become the third country to experience the SMS 2.0, following India and Singapore, which are currently conducting trials on the new service, he said.

Speaking at the “Digital Day” conference held by Mindshare Thailand yesterday, Stalberg said about 10 per cent of Thai mobile-phone users who have a handset run on Symbian software – such as the Nokia N-Series – would be able to use the service. That equates to 3.5 million people.

mInteraction, however, expects 50,000 Thais to apply for the service during the one-month pilot launch in the next quarter.

But since the number of Symbian phones are expected to increase to 5 million-6 million – or 20 per cent of the handsets available on the market – in the next 24 months, the firm expects one million Thais to switch to SMS 2.0 during that time, he added.

Stalberg said that unlike conventional SMS, SMS 2.0 would allow users to incorporate colour background, view pictures or even insert the ‘smiley’ icon – similar to what they can do on the MSN chat service. But they will have to see some ads.

Stalberg said mInteraction would launch the trial service here with eight to 10 advertisers.

According to mInteraction, the advertising will be in the form of ‘contextual’ ads, that is, which display material relevant to the users’ interests. One major benefit of utilising the new mobile advertising medium is that users can have “instant interaction” with the advertisers, such as making a call to them to ask questions or order goods or services.

Users will not have to pay an additional charge over their normal SMS rates, while they can view a lot of free content, he said. There will be 10-15 content categories on offer, including music, sports, finance, business and news.

mInteraction is in discussion with content providers, including the Siam Sports group and the Nation Multimedia Group, said Stalberg.

The SMS 2.0 service will be launched with one of the two largest cellphone network operators, he said.

During its trial launch in India, its cellphone operator partner sent SMS to 16,000 mobile-phone users inviting them to try the new SMS 2.0 service. Of this number, 75 per cent applied for the services.

Stalberg said that in Thailand the number of mobile-phone users – 44 per cent of the population – was nearly four times higher than the number of Internet users (12 per cent).

And while many people feel the mobile screen is too small to become an effective medium, Stalberg thinks otherwise. “A mobile screen six inches from your face is much larger than a 42-inch plasma television,” he said.

Pichaya Changsorn, The Nation