Mobile marketing: Understanding the wireless world

Interested in learning more about mobile marketing? This chapter provides an overview of messaging, including four main messaging technologies: SMS, smart messaging, EMS and MMS. Learn how to use messaging as part of your own mobile marketing strategy.

Mobile Marketing: Achieving Competitive Advantage Through Wireless Technology @46501

Printed with permission from Butterworth Heinemann, a division of Elsevier. Copyright 2006. "Mobile Marketing: Achieving Competitive Advantage Through Wireless Technology" by Alex Michael. For more information about this book, please visit Elsevier.

Understanding the wireless world


Without doubt, one of the main areas of growth in the wireless world over the past four or five years has been in messaging. To give you an idea of the vast numbers of messages sent, on New Year's Eve 2004 alone in the UK 111 million SMS messages were sent!

There are four main messaging technologies:

1. SMS
2. Smart messaging (from Nokia)
3. EMS (Enhanced Messaging System)
4. MMS

SMS was the first of these technologies to emerge, and it started life as a straightforward person-to-person messaging service which succeeded because it was simple to grasp and support for it was so widespread. SMS lets you send and receive messages made up of text and numbers to and from mobile phones (and specially equipped landlines). Nokia created an extension to SMS, called 'smart messaging', that is available on more recent Nokia handsets. This form of messaging can be used for Over The Air (OTA) phone configuration and updates, picture messaging, logos and so on. The value of smart messaging is that messages can be sent over the standard SMS infrastructure and therefore operators do not need to upgrade their infrastructure. EMS emerged between SMS and MMS, and allows the sending of relatively simple media and extended text messages. MMS is a rich version of SMS; it has been accepted as standard by the 3GPP (the mobile standards authority), and it enables the sending of sounds, pictures and video to and between handsets. MMS messages take the form of short presentations, and the use of MMS as a business tool is wide and varied – for example, in animated business cards, greeting cards, cartoons and maps.


The first SMS message was sent in December 1992 from a PC to a mobile phone on the Vodafone network. SMS is currently one of the most widely used wireless technologies, and its usage amongst phone users remains very high. It accounts for around 60–80 per cent of average revenue per user (ARPU) and, though its percentage of total ARPU is decreasing due to the emergence of other communication technologies, its usage will remain steady. In the top 20 European countries over 200 billion SMS messages are sent each month, but the usage of SMS goes far beyond peer-to-peer communication; it is a great business tool for interacting with end-users, and it provides a convenient and widely accepted way of billing the user.


SMS messages are generally no more than 140–160 characters in length, and contain no images or graphics. When a message is sent it is received by a Short Message Service Center (SMSC), which must then get it to the appropriate mobile device. To do this, the SMSC sends an SMS request to the home location register (HLR) to find the roaming customer. Once the HLR receives the request, it will respond to the SMSC with the subscriber's status: (1) inactive or active; and (2) where the subscriber is roaming. If the response is 'inactive', then the SMSC will hold onto the message for a period of time. When the subscriber accesses his or her device, the HLR sends an SMS notification to the SMSC, and the SMSC will attempt delivery. The SMSC transfers the message, in a short message delivery point to point format, to the serving system. The system pages the device and, if it responds, the message gets delivered. The SMSC receives verification that the message has been received by the end-user, then categorizes the message as 'sent' and will not attempt to send it again.

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