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The author of Waffle, some guy in Sweden, also occasionally writes stmts.net.

iPhone MMS Coming

Swedish MacWorld magazine reports [passably translated and accurate in the important details] a Telia executive’s confirmation that MMS will be offered for iPhone within two months. Update: a full manual translation of the article.

And the part of the world that realized that being able to send pictures to anyone whose mobile phone number you knew (like a grandparent), instead of needing to keep a lookup table with corresponding mobile email addresses and pressure those without to get one, rejoices.

Update: The original post left unsaid whether this was going to be in the iPhone OS or available as a separate application. My initial theory was that MMS is hard to do under the constraints of the SDK. It has since occurred to me that given a push notification service like the one delayed earlier this year and lots of custom server-side software on Telia’s side to basically relay MMS messages in a new way, similar to the new way Visual Voicemail (which curiously isn’t yet supported under Telia in Sweden either) relays voicemail messages, an MMS app could be made to work.

It occurs to me that this is still not only rabidly embarrassing for Apple but also uncharacteristic, especially given the attention paid to introducing Japan-only Emoji directly into the software. As baffling it may be to the Japanese that Emoji isn’t supported in iPhone right now, it is equally baffling to many more people worldwide that MMS isn’t supported right now. My guess is that if the answer is a Telia MMS app, it will roundly be obsoleted by iPhone OS support as soon as Apple can get around to it.

Moreover, I advise that the iPhone software platform must be opened.


  1. The way I read the translation of that article it sounds like Telia is releasing its own solution for MMS. Not that Apple is incorporating MMS into the iPhone, which of course would be much more interesting and useful.

    By Glenn · 2008.11.18 19:46

  2. Not the first time someone has claimed MMS is coming ‘soon’.

    I’ll believe it when I see it :)

    By DGK · 2008.11.18 19:49

  3. A custom app could be the solution, but I don’t see how it’d work as far as receiving messages would go.My latest thinking is in the post itself.

    By Jesper · 2008.11.18 19:53

  4. It is a weird one, isn’t it? I can only assume that supporting MMS with the various phone networks around the world must be too much of a crapshoot to support.

    I know nothing about how MMS works, but it’s the only explanation I can think of that makes sense. Supporting MMS would make the networks more money, and would be perfect for the iPhone’s camera (which isn’t good for much more than picture message quality shots) and screen.

    By Paul D. Waite · 2008.11.19 12:10

  5. Gruber claims that he’s heard that it’s a bitch to get everything right, and if that’s the case I can see the delay. Nearly every other large phone company has been developing their MMS code iteratively as phones have appeared over the past several years and can surely cope better with oddities right now that with code Apple will write from scratch.

    It’s not that the format itself is weird. MMS is basically MIME multipart messages with a restriction of what sort of content the message may contain. The video format (3GP) has been supported at least by Mac OS X QuickTime for ages, is a simplified subset of MPEG-4 and may only contain video or audio streams in familiar codecs (MPEG-4 Part 2, H.263, H.264, AAC-LC); this should all be old hat technology-wise. Even if we assert that this format was weird, Apple’s surely got the technology already to deal with more advanced cases of these formats.

    If Apple won’t launch MMS now, it may come down to three reasons why:

    • Apple doesn’t want to launch MMS support until they can do everything both for showing received messages as well as sending messages; recording video is missing.
    • Apple is struggling to build a solid implementation that works across all supported nets in all 70-summat countries with all possible phones. MMS is sent in a fairly standard way, so I think phone quirks are more likely than network quirks.
    • Apple doesn’t want MMS, plain and simple. MMS messages are expensive, not as popular in the US as in the rest of the world and yes, sending an email solves the problem in some cases. But as is argued in the post, this misses what MMS is for – sending a photo or a video with the simplicity of SMS. Apple didn’t tell people to send plain text emails instead of SMS messages, and it shouldn’t tell people to send emails with attachments instead of MMS messages.

    By Jesper · 2008.11.19 13:20

  6. A simple way for telia to solve the mms issue is just to assign a phonenumber@telia.se email address to each phone. Then on the server side they will convert between mms/email. This kind of software already exists and should be the easiest way for them to get mms working on an iphone…

    By Anders · 2008.11.20 07:21

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