kodak / wireless

Curtis Yarvin curtis@buttercat.com
Thu, 10 Jan 2002 23:42:40 -0800

> i liked your take on wireless protocol wars.  my curiosity is specifically
> around the relation of protocols, 'proprietary networks' and carrier
> politics as multimedia messaging uptake grows and where the balance of power
> will be as people start to realize that being able to wirelessly capture and
> send pictures will be a fundamental step in communications capability - not
> as much as the mobile phone itself but better than email or *ANY* other
> phone + x convergence design.

Thanks, but I'm afraid that too mucb of what I know about
the subject will only confirm the most cynical prejudices of
the most anhydrous, triple-distilled, ultramontanist nethead -

multimedia messaging, "MMS," in particular, is a vile scam.
I was actually at the first WAP Forum meeting where it was
discussed - Nokia organized it deep in the snowy backwoods
of Finland (Tampere) in the middle of January, hoping no
nosy netheads would attend and blow the whistle on their
sinister, reactionary plot -

which was basically to redesign SMTP, POP/IMAP and MIME
completely, for no other reason than that if you use these
protocols, it must be - gasp - email.  And email, everyone
knows, is free.  It is never going to pay off your 3G debts.

MMS, on the other hand - MMS is like SMS.  I mean, the last
two letters, are, like, the same!  And if you can charge 10c
a pop for 120 bytes of text, what could *multimedia* be worth?
Two dollars - three!  Talk about a hockey stick curve!

Well, the forces of darkness will get away with a lot but
not, I think, with this one.  The battle is still going on,
I am not personally close enough to it to deliver today's
Rumsfeld report, but this one is just *too* blatant.  Even
if they win the immediate standards battles (3GPP and WAP
Forum) the victory will not be sustainable in the market.

So, for MMS, you should probably just read "email."  Not to
say it won't make the carriers a lot of money, in the long
run, it's just that I think the margins will go much lower
and the volume much higher than they expect right now.  

If they are smart enough to see this and encourage it, they
may be able to price their data rates down to the point
where people use wireless more the way Europeans use cell
phones, as a casual replacement for the wireline equivalent
even when mobility isn't that critical.

For example - the security implications are tremendous.
CCTV the way we usually think of it, of course, but also
I've thought for a while that the way we enforce traffic
safety - by very occasionally and randomly punishing the
most extreme violators with corresponding severity - is
obsolete; it should work the same way as a swimming pool.
Lifeguards who bawl you out instantly when you get even a
bit rowdy.  In ten years, a solar-powered wireless
videocamera will be a lot cheaper than a streetlight...
all you need is a mapping from license plate to MSISDN.