Mobispine is challenging many of the preconceptions about MMS messaging- and building a powerful business for mobile operators.
Two things that you might assume about MMS are that it's always sent from a phone and that it's strictly person to person. That's two things you've got wrong. Mobispine provides tools to allow both SMS and MMS messages to be sent from a PC to one or multiple users.
The Desktop Messaging system consists of both PC client software and a server architecture which sits alongside the network's existing infrastructure.
For the user it's the missing link between phone and PC messaging. For the operator it's a great way to drive up the usage of MMS.
One of the long-standing problems with MMS has been the generation of content. Of course it's possible: phones have cameras and some allow a bit of editing; but it's nothing like as flexible as a PC. Research has shown that if rich content isn't sent within 50 seconds of generation, it tends not to be sent at all.
If you want to Photoshop a third eye into your colleague's forehead, it's a job for a PC. What's more a PC has the whole internet-worth of content which can be pasted into an MMS and sent.
In keeping with this view of being able to send what used to be mobile messages from your computer, Mobispine offers huge flexibility in how you can do it from the computer. There is of course a dedicated client, but there is also the option to send messages from inside both your web browser and Outlook. For Vista and Mac users there is a desktop widget. It supports contacts lists from both Outlook and Vista.
Integration with other applications plays to the 50 second rule. Get an email or find something on a web page and well within the 50 seconds you can have it sent onwards to a phone. You can ask for replies to be sent to your phone or directly back to your email. Mobispine desktop messaging acts as a bridge between viral jokes in email and by SMS; and "viral" of course has marketing applications as well as fun ones.
Mobispine in action
A Swedish company, Mobispine has been providing desktop messaging since 2000. It has 25 operators using the platform including TeliaSonera, O2 and Vodafone. One small operator, a Norwegian MVNO, has just 100 employees. The smallest networks have 100,000 subscribers and the biggest has 20 million subscribers. It's very scalable; and that makes it very saleable.
It's easy for an operator to install Desktop messaging on the server side (the server does smart things before sending the message to the SMSC/MMSC) and it's a natural add-on for the operator's existing SMSC/MMSC. And for the operator it's profitable. Typically, operators see an ARPU lift of $3/$4 for the typical user; the equivalent to sending an additional 50 SMS per month.
About the Author
Simon Rockman is Head of Requirements and Applications at Sony Ericsson. This means he looks at what people and networks want, and tries to match them up. Previously he was Creative Experience Director at Motorola, and founder of What Mobile magazine. His particular areas of interest are consumer trends, user interface and gaming.