Can Blogs Save MMS?

By Scott Smith  |  Posted 2003-05-30 Print this article Print

Guest commentary: European carriers are betting that MMS will prove to be the cash cow that SMS was, but multimedia messaging is off to a slow start. Scott Smith sees blogging as a convergence application that could put those media-rich handsets to

One couldnt help but think last summer as the first camera-equipped mobile phones began appearing in shops, "here we go again". The mobile industry worldwide, experiencing slowing growth from the boom years, stung by massive bets on 3G, and struggling to create so-called m-commerce services, was rolling the dice again, this time with even more expensive hardware. Companies were once again trying to take a service that has success in Japan to the US and Europe. They were either going to have to pass the cost of MMS-enabled phones to consumers, or subsidize equipment and pray they made up the cost on services. Not surprisingly, most operators did both, in that order. Until now, one of the principal problems for MMS services has been the so-called "fax effect." An MMS-enabled phone is only useful when the receiver of the message also has one. If none of your friends have MMS-capable phones, having a picture of a beautiful sunset on Cyprus isnt much use. And having all of your friends gather around a tiny phone screen to see your vacation snaps after you get back is hardly the way to spend a Friday night (though, unfortunately, I have seen it done).
MMS phones are steadily making their way into the market, thanks to more attractive upgrade deals being offered by operators, and handset manufacturers are applying the lifestyle-into-design mentality Nokia pioneered to make camera-phones cute, not overly-techie. Also, MMS roaming availability is expanding, a must-have in geographically fragmented areas such as Europe and Asia.
Enter the clever folks at NewBay Software, an Irish software firm, and their FoneBlog software. Introduced at the beginning of 2003, FoneBlog allows MMS users to do something with all those snaps – post them to a blog-like Web site of their very own, first with short SMS-based captions (or frighteningly, with audio clips), but open to follow up and flexible design via PC. Available to operators either as a standalone application or as an ASP-based service, FoneBlog aims to give the rising number of MMS users a place to put their pictures, tell their stories, and share their views. It does so, however, without necessarily requiring the users to have a PC from which to sharpen their blog. FoneBlog is in idea that could solve some of the key problems with MMS. Unlike SMS, where text messages have no need for persistence, MMS thrives on persistence of message. Why take a photo if you ultimately have to dump it when your phones memory fills up? By firing a picture over to a blog, users can capture the moment and the thought, and alert others to the posting.

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In May 2005, Scott Smith assumed his current responsibilities as Executive Vice President and General Manager, Americas for Lenovo as the acquisition of IBM's former Personal Computing Division to Lenovo Group was completed. In this role, Scott leads all customer sales, marketing and operations activities for the Americas across the Lenovo portfolio.

Prior to Lenovo Scott held a number of key leadership positions at IBM in sales, marketing, service delivery and business line management in both the United States and abroad. In July 2004, Scott assumed the responsibility of vice president, Personal Computing Division, IBM Americas.

From 1995 to 1999, Scott held various executive positions in the Asia Pacific region which included Director, Engineering Solutions, Director, Manufacturing Solutions, General Manager, Networking and Storage Systems.

Upon returning to the United States, Scott assumed the position of Worldwide Vice President of sales, marketing & business line management for the Networking Hardware Division. He also had roles as vice president, e-business Solutions where he helped customers achieve the benefits of e-business through the implementation of IBM's solution offerings in the e-Commerce, Customer Relationship Management, Supply Chain Management, Enterprise Application Systems and e-Markets segments, vice president, Americas Server Sales where he was responsible for driving revenue and market share growth of the unified IBM eServer family of products. In his previous role, Scott held the position of vice president, Industrial Sector, IBM Americas. In this capacity, he was responsible for sales and support of the full range of IBM's information technology products, sales & service delivery and industry solutions. He led a diverse team dedicated to the global support of large enterprise customers in the Aerospace & Defense, Automotive, Electronics and Chemicals & Petroleum Industries. He was also responsible for the total IBM customer relationship. By setting strategy, aligning resources and driving sales execution, he challenged his sales and delivery teams to leverage the full breadth of IBM's capabilities to help customers realize successful business results and achieve a competitive business advantage.

Scott holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Industrial Distribution from Clarkson University. He was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne. He is a member of the IBM Senior Leadership Team.

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