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The iPhone And MMS: Corporate Oversight Or Savvy Strategy?

When Apple unleashed the iPhone, multimedia messaging had already become commonplace. No longer the exclusive realm of the technically savvy, people of all ages were sending pictures, ringtones, videos, audio files and more to each other. So, it was a reasonable assumption that Apple's iPhone would support MMS. Unfortunately, the assumptions were wrong and millions of iPhone customers were left sorely disappointed. Even the newly released 3G iPhone appears to lack MMS support! Clearly after a year of development time Apple could have chosen to add MMS support to their new 3G iPhone, but it's clearly not something they're eager to support.

Apple's Corporate Strategy

Apple's business strategy has often been unconventional. However, the iPhone and its lack of MMS support has left many long-time Apple fans to speculate about the behemoth's hunger for revenue. Some wonder if the company has abandoned its tradition of fostering a rabidly-loyal following with superior products for the siren's call of ever-increasing quarterly profits.

iTunes has been a significant profit center for Apple (4 billion downloads since February 2008 have made iTunes the number 2 music retailer in the U.S.). It not only contributes directly to Apple's bottom line; it also helps them maintain and expand the market share for their growing line of products. Because MMS would allow the transfer of ringtones and music files to the iPhone, the service could presumably cut into Apple's iTunes business of selling ringtones for the iPhone. The iPhone's lack of MMS support (despite such messages using the same network as text messaging) implies that Apple realizes this and has purposefully excluded the service. But, technical hurdles have always inspired creative solutions.

How To Send And Receive MMS Messages On Your iPhone

Though the iPhone does not offer MMS support, you can still send and receive multimedia messages through a simple loophole in the iPhone's architecture. Each wireless subscriber is given an email address. For example, an Alltel subscriber is given an email address with the format xxxx@message.alltel.com where "xxxx" is that users phone number or a username they may have setup with the company. AT&T customers are provided with the xxxx@mms.att.net email address. Sprint customers are provided with xxxx@messaging.sprintpcs.com while Verizon subscribers have email addresses formated as xxxx@vzwpix.com. If you know the wireless email address of the person to whom you want send a multimedia message, you can attach the file to a text message. In the same manner, someone can send multimedia messages to your iPhone as an attachment as long as they know your wireless email address.

Because the iPhone also has built in email support, users have resorted to having friends send them picture messages to their email address, such as a gmail.com email address, and attaching the pictures to the messages, which can then be viewed on the iPhone.

Apple's strategy (or oversight, depending upon your perspective) in neglecting to provide MMS support on the iPhone has not prevented creative people from finding a solution. Indeed, as MMS becomes increasingly popular, Apple may one day find itself conceding to its customers demands.

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