What Is a Multimedia Message?

By Jerel Jacobs

A highly touted feature of cell phones is the multimedia messaging service (MMS). MMS is a much more personal means of communication versus traditional text messaging, as it allows pictures, voice and video to be transmitted between cellphones.


MMS was pioneered by Sony Ericsson in the late 1990s. The first adaptation was called Enhanced Messaging Service.


MMS was derived from the original SMS service and allows for video and picture information to be sent using the same transmission standards and many of the same protocols originally adopted for traditional text messaging (SMS).


There are many types of MMS services. Each phone company calls its MMS service by a different name because, while the general function is the same, each phone company employs its own proprietary methods to send MMS data.


Because of the proprietary nature of multimedia messaging, there are often conflicts when sending picture and video messages to phones using different services, and in some cases even different types of phones may be incompatible for MMS communications.

Fun Fact

MMS has allowed people to capture breaking news and other important events. In many cases, noteworthy events are broadcast from cell phones via MMS before the media is even on the scene.

Expert Insight

Most phone companies limit the maximum size of each MMS message to around 500kb. This is more than enough for pictures taken with a cell-phone camera. It also, using advanced compression technology, in enough for one- to three-minute video clips.

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