Wireless Carriers Frame The Picture Message

By Joseph Palenchar On Jun 23 2003 - 6:00am

The top six wireless carriers are spending more to advertise picture messaging than they are spending to promote any other single wireless-data service, research company Telephia found.

Advertising included print, TV and other media.

During the fourth quarter of 2002, carriers spent $61 million to promote picture messaging, a gain of 259 percent over the third quarter. Carriers spent only $21 million on the next most heavily advertised data feature — games that can be downloaded over the wireless network.

Overall, U.S. carriers spent 9 percent of their fourth-quarter consumer-ad budgets of $678 million to promote picture messaging, Telephia said. Spending on picture messaging accounted for 41 percent of the $150 million spent by the carriers during the fourth quarter to advertise data services, Telephia also found. Those services included text messaging, $20 million; Web browsing, $20 million; e-mail, $11 million; enterprise-network access, $7 million; music services, $7 million; personal information management (PIM) functions, $2 million; and location-based services, $1 million.

The advertising campaigns are "beginning to have an encouraging impact on consumer attitudes, particularly among data users, toward camera/image/picture messaging," Telephia said. "A notable segment of the subscriber base [15 percent] expressed a desire to have a camera feature on their next phone."

For now, however, only 1 percent of phone subscribers use picture services, Telephia research shows. Among data-service users, the percentage is 5 percent. In contrast, 21 percent of all subscribers and 78 percent of data subscribers use two-way text messaging, which is the most widely adopted data application, the company said.

For its report, Telephia defined various data applications in the following way:

Camera/Imaging/Picture Messaging: The ability to display photos or take/send photos on a wireless device.

Games: The ability to play games downloaded wirelessly.

Text Messaging: The ability to type text-based messages on a wireless device or on an Internet site for transmission to a wireless phone display.

Internet/Web/WAP: Wireless access to standard Web sites or to wireless access protocol (WAP) Web sites.

E-mail: The ability to access or send e-mails from a wireless device.

Business/Corporate Network: The ability to wirelessly access an office network or server.

Music/MP3 Download/Play: Music applications or ringtone downloads.

Address/Calendar: Personal information management applications.

GPS/Location Services: Wireless devices used to locate another wireless user or to get maps/directions.

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