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EDITIONS
Friday, 31 May, 2002, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
T-Mobile UK launches picture messaging
Images being transmitted by mobile phone
Operators are desperate for the new services to succeed
The T-Mobile network is to launch the UK's first picture messaging service via mobile phones this weekend.

The service will cost an extra 20 a month, and will also give users internet access and unlimited text messages.


In many respects we're tackling the postcard market place, which is a 50bn a year market place

Harris Jones, T-Mobile
The success of picture messaging is seen as vital for mobile phone operators, who are betting on data services to drive growth in the industry.

The new services come ahead of the introduction of third generation - or 3G - mobile phone services, which will allow people to watch moving images on their phones.

Companies have spent billions of pounds on 3G licences, but many industry watchers have questioned whether people will want to pay for the services.

Big in Japan

"We think this is a very very important step towards 3G," T-Mobile's UK chief executive Harris Jones told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Sony Ericsson T68i mobile
The service is being launched with the Sony Ericsson T68i phone
And Mr Jones said he was confident that the service would be popular - despite the price.

"I think that it's proven that customers are very interested in transmitting and communicating with each other.

"We know from early indications in Japan that picture messaging is going to be the most compelling data service in the industry."

However, text messaging services have been particularly successful with the teenage market, so a monthly 20 fee may be seen as prohibitively expensive.

Hi-tech postcards

In order to be able to use the new service, T-Mobile customers will have to use a Sony Ericsson T68i handset.

The phone has an extension to plug in a camera. Once digital pictures are recorded, they can be sent on.

Customers can also access a T-Mobile picture messaging centre that has a gallery of pictures available to brighten up the phone's screen.

Later this year a Nokia handset will be available with a built-in camera.

Mr Jones said he thought the ability to send pictures would be very popular when people are on holiday, as they could send snapshots back to friends and family in the UK.

"In many respects we're tackling the postcard market place, which is a 50bn a year market place," he said.

"The 20 fee that's been noted is actually a comprehensive fee that will include all of your data transmission.

"It's e-mail, it's picture messaging, it's anything you want to do in terms of data from the phone."

The T-Mobile network in the UK was until last month known as One2One. It was rebranded in April by its parent company Deutsche Telekom.


Would you pay 20 extra a month for these sorts of services?

Have your say

Call me a tight wad, but twenty of my English pounds will not be leaving my tight stringed money pouch to send a small, poor quality image to someone who doesn't have a phone to view it!
Dave Gunthorpe, UK

Mainly, this is a kids market - it's not a postcard market for families on holiday. This just proves to me just how little our telecoms operators understand their customers. It will take off, but more slowly than Japan. Kids here are poorer, and the price will have to come down to become mass-market.
Brad, UK

No way - the consumer will not pay for these type of services. It's surely kids that will want this service. Charging a small fee per picture would be more appropriate
Michelle Jeffery, UK

What a great idea! I think it will be an enormous success, and am looking forward to sharing pictures instead of boring text messages with my friends!
Richard Smith, UK

I would not pay 20 for these services, The operators and phone manufacturers have created the medium to deliver high-quality images and internet access. However, consumers still do not have a broad choice of user-friendly and cost-effective services for mobile phones.
Dev Desai, UK

20 per month! I think it's a bit steep. I await to see if the technology will impress me.
R Tanna, UK

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Harris Jones, UK chief executive T-Mobile
"We think this is a very very important step towards 3G"
See also:

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