After the success of short messaging service (SMS) in the region, communications software specialist Openwave is moving to help Asian cellular operators change networks to support multimedia messaging service (MMS). Openwave Asia-Pacific vice-president of marketing Don Oas said the company was pushing for a rapid adoption of MMS throughout the region by linking existing WAP (wireless application protocol), SMS and Web clients already in the hands of millions of subscribers. Much multimedia-related communication has been based on content created on the phone, such as photo messaging. 'Openwave believes that by tapping server-based multimedia content, such as professionally created music, digital images and cartoons, in addition to the billions of pictures taken on digital cameras, there will be quicker acceleration towards a critical mass of content necessary to create demand for MMS,' Mr Oas said. MMS enables multimedia messages containing content such as pictures, music, images, graphics, and ring tones. It is expected to be one of the key services that will drive demand for high-speed, wireless Internet connections made by GPRS (general packet radio service). In Hong Kong, Openwave customers Pacific Century CyberWorks and Hutchison Telecom have launched their GPRS networks. In the mainland, China Mobile is another Openwave software user. Since last December, text messaging has received a much-needed boost in Hong Kong because all six GSM (global system for mobile communications) operators agreed to make their SMS networks interoperable. 'Although MMS will seem a lot like SMS, or text messaging, to the end-user, when you look deeper, you find it isn't like SMS at all. MMS is based on WAP, WAP Push, and Internet multimedia messaging - all technologies pioneered by Openwave,' Mr Oas said. With 84 operators worldwide deploying its Mobile Access Gateway software and 41 operators with more than one million Internet messaging seats licensed, Openwave expects its recently launched MMS system to be widely adopted by Asian operators. Mr Oas said there were a number of Asian operators testing Openwave's MMS system. Openwave's MMS infrastructure solution combines its newly released Internet protocol-based Multimedia Messaging Services Centre and the latest version of its Mobile Access Gateway middleware. Iain Gillott, founder and principal of wireless-market strategy consultancy GillottResearch, said: 'Few dispute the demand for MMS, due to the compelling nature of mobile communities and multimedia content. The effective approach to MMS takes into account the critical elements for operators to be successful out of the box - interoperable multimedia devices, multimedia content and the support from a critical mass of mobile operators.' Version 5.1 of Mobile Access Gateway provides new features to support multimedia person-to-person messaging and multimedia downloads. It also supports WAP Push, a technology that enables the pushing of alerts and rich content to mobile devices to notify the user of incoming messages and other time-sensitive information. Mr Oas said MMS also provided Openwave with an opportunity to boost revenues this year. The company reported revenues for its second financial quarter to December 31 reached US$93.4 million, down from US$109.7 million the previous year.