Multimedia messaging. Seems like a simple concept and lots of phones offer it these days. Well, the innovative, "industry-leading" iPhone is finally among them. September 25 is the launch date for this highly anticipated feature on the Apple handset. (So much for a summer release. But better late than never, I suppose.)
If you're wondering why it took so long, join the club. Sadly, there's not exactly a clear-cut reason, other than the one cranked out by AT&T's PR machine: The carrier wanted "to give our customers a positive experience from day one," so extra time was needed "to make sure our network is ready to handle what we expect will be a record volume of MMS traffic."
Users can expect MMS functionality to arrive via software update. (Sorry, but if you're carting around an earlier model, there's no joy to be had from this. It's for iPhone 3G and 3G S only.)
If you're waiting for tethering, well that's another story. The carrier says it's coming "in the future," but there's no date for that yet. And AT&T cops a similar excuse to its MMS rationale: "This function [tethering] could exponentially increase traffic on the network, and we need to ensure that some of our current upgrades are in place before we can deliver the expanded functionality with the excellent performance that customers expect."
Great. I'll hold my breath.
If you're wondering what the official announcement said, here it is for your reading pleasure:
An Update on iPhone MMS for our Mobility Customers
We know many of our iPhone customers are eager for an update on our rollout schedule for Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). We've been working for the past several months to prepare our systems and network to ensure the best possible experience with MMS when it launches – and that launch date is: September 25 for iPhone 3G and 3GS customers. MMS will be enabled through a software update on that day.
We know that iPhone users will embrace MMS. The unique capabilities and high usage of the iPhone's multimedia capabilities required us to work on our network MMS architecture to carry the expected record volumes of MMS traffic and ensure an excellent experience from Day One. We appreciate your patience as we work toward that end.
We're riding the leading edge of smartphone growth that's resulted in an explosion of traffic over the AT&T network. Wireless use on our network has grown an average of 350 percent year-over-year for the past two years, and is projected to continue at a rapid pace in 2009 and beyond. The volume of smartphone data traffic the AT&T network is handling is unmatched in the wireless industry. We want you to know that we're working relentlessly to innovate and invest in our network to anticipate this growth in usage and to stay ahead of the anticipated growth in data demand, new devices and applications for years to come.
We thank you for your business and look forward to keeping you updated on our initiatives.