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So - why not buy a new Nokia 7650?

Posted on 24/09/2002 at 28:50

MMS is a revolutionary new form of communication. And if you were in any doubt, there is a book coming out featuring MMS messages taken by art students called "see what I'm talking about?" - well, do we?

After "How are you?" we get "see what I'm talking about" - clever, that. See the pictures. The pictures, in the book, were taken and sent on Nokia's new 7650 phone, which, rather fortuitously, is now on sale... so why not buy a new Nokia 7650?

In a rather worrying rerun of the mindless hype we were subjected to with WAP, mobile companies have been spending an absolute fortune trying to persuade us all that we need a camera on our phone. Billions in TV ads, fake surveys, celebrity endorsements and, like this book, corporate efforts to create and feed a cultural craze.

The book is the brainchild of Nokia's ego-maniac brand managers who believe if they sat in a room with a big pad for long enough they could persuade you that you can fly. The idea is to make MMS cool so kids buy the new phones in their millions. And then spend millions sending poor quality pics to their friends all day every day.

It may happen. Small cameras like these are, god help us, already commonplace in Japan, where they are known (in the trade) as "up-skirt" cameras. So we can certainly guarantee you that the press will be full of horror stories in a few months. Paedophiles will be getting kids to send them pictures of themselves. There will definitely be an outcry about this worrying new teen craze of girls taking pictures of their breasts and sending them to boys ("the boys then exchange these images like playing cards").

But but but - will MMS take off? Logically it has no reason to. The phones are expensive, the pictures rubbish, the cost of sending them too high, the download time too long and no one has yet explained why people would send pictures more than, say, once a day.

Human beings are notable for their incredibly monotonous lives. What exactly would you keep sending your friends? Here I am in front of the computer. This is the view from my desk. Look I've pulled a silly face.

The art book doesn't help much either. Apparently they are "illustrating the multidimensionality of MMS messaging" but all we can see is a normal, daft text message exchange with uninteresting pictures of the sender attached. See for yourself at

Isn't there a risk that people will grow sick of having to take pictures of themselves all the time and just resort to simple texting? Plus, have the mobile companies forgotten that most teenagers are constantly unhappy with how they look? Why would they want to send their ugly mug every time?

Mobile companies are worried that MMS could flop and end up costing them billions. They're right to be worried. It's worth remembering (again) that all companies dismissed text messaging at the start and have been trying to rewrite history ever since.

However the greatest mistake they are going to make with MMS is to treat it like texting. There will be no huge revenues made with it as there are with text messages because people simply won't send that many a day.

There are lots of ways in which a camera on a phone can be useful. Women will love them. Got your hair done - send a pic to your friends. Trying on a dress and not sure - off it goes for instant judgement (with a simple text reply). Of course, there are holidays, but they don't come too often. Odd things that you see when travelling to work. You'll probably miss most of them but once a month you'll get something. Sex, of course, swapping pics with your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner.

Most of the traffic will probably be forwarded pics taken by other people. Smutty pics, celebrity photos, world events, that sort of thing. But is this enough to fund mobile companies' business plan?

We'll have to wait and see. But in the meantime, dressing up a blatant PR effort as "an experiment in social interaction" is not going to help matters.

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