Lack of MMS short codes shortchanges users


The sun was setting and my 4-year-old was getting restless when the outfield scoreboard at Coors Field provided a welcome diversion.
Take a photo with your camera phone, the promotion urged, and send it in. The winning shot would be posted on the scoreboard for all to see later in the game.
Spotting an opportunity to buy another half-hour before my daughter’s patience expired, I pulled out my camera phone and pointed it at her. On cue, she put her fingers in the corners of her mouth, stuck her tongue out and rolled her eyes back in her head.
I snapped a sure winner. Sit tight, I told her, and maybe you’ll see yourself on the screen.
I composed a message with the image and checked the scoreboard to see where to send it, but the next inning had started and the message was gone. That night’s promotion was over. It wasn’t until the next game that I noted the “to” address:
Really? Not a clever short code? Or the Rockies box-office number, 303-ROCKIES? Or even a logical e-mail address, like
Essentially, the campaign required me to read the scoreboard, take a photo and send it to an e-mail address that requires 44 clicks to enter on a 12-key pad. If I had remembered the address in the first place.
Vibes Media, a mobile marketing company out of Chicago, powers the campaign for the Rockies, which explains the e-mail address. Vibes CEO Alex Campbell said he couldn’t disclose exact figures, but he did claim such efforts typically result in “hundreds of pictures” being sent. But that number pales in comparison to text campaigns, he concedes, which can generate 100 times as many responses.
Photo-messaging campaigns are increasingly popular overseas, of course, as sports teams and media brands strive to connect with fans on their mobile phones. And a handful of developers are using barcodes on physical goods-a CD or promotional poster, for instance-to allow users to take a picture of the code and send it in to receive information about upcoming concert dates or new releases.
MMS short codes-which have yet to be offered in the United States-could be a key driver for such efforts.
“I truly believe the lack of MMS short codes is a key factor for why we don’t see as many picture messages as text messages,” Campbell said via e-mail. “I’m a HUGE believer in MMS short codes.”
For good reason. A well-chosen short code not only would be easier to remember than an e-mail address, it could keep users’ fingers from cramping up. And MMS short codes probably aren’t far off-Verizon Wireless is rumored to be the first carrier to support them in the next few months. The carrier wasn’t immediately available to comment on this.For the time being, though, consumers will have to type out lengthy e-mail addresses to participate in mobile marketing campaigns that ask them to send photos or videos from their phones. Or they’ll forget the address altogether and leave the ballpark early.

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