SmarTone Telecommunications has set a modest subscriber target for its newly launched multimedia messaging service (MMS). Chief executive Douglas Li said he expected a minimum of 10,000 customers to take up the service within the first year, or about 1 per cent of its one million subscriber base. MMS enables users to send photos with musical features via mobile phones. 'We are targeting at least 10,000 to 20,000 subscribers in the next 12 months, but it is hard to estimate [how many we will have]. I wish I knew,' Mr Li said. SmarTone yesterday became the third third-generation (3G) mobile operator to launch an MMS, following rivals CSL and Hutchison Telecom. It is first to provide an estimate of the number of users for the new data application service. Mr Li said the availability and pricing of MMS-enabled handsets were the determining factors for market penetration, although he believed more and cheaper handsets would be available as time passed. SmarTone is not offering handset subsidies, deeming them unnecessary. Mr Li said he was confident that MMS, which allows users to mix pictures with music, offered value for consumers. 'Over time [MMS] will develop as in the case of Japan and Korea. There is a compelling proposition that it offers a true consumer application for 3G type of information,' he said. Driven by the popularity of short message services, data revenue rose to between 3 per cent and 4 per cent of SmarTone's total turnover in the first half, in line with other competitors. Last year, 2 per cent of SmarTone's turnover came from data services. SmarTone has committed HK$10 million to its MMS system - a fraction of its more than HK$3 billion in net cash.