Apple Sued Over MMS: But Who Really Uses It?


According to a report this week on The Mac Observer, Apple and AT&T have been presented with a class action lawsuit by a customer who accuses them of misleading the public by advertising the MMS capabilities of the iPhone 3GS despite not making those capabilities available in the U.S. when it launched.

(Yawn.) I’ll let you mull over whether the accusation is fair; the plaintiff, Francis Monticelli, says in the suit that “MMS functionality was one of the reasons people chose to buy or upgrade… it has [become] clear that AT&T’s network does not support MMS.”

TMO points out Apple made it quite clear MMS functionality would not be available in America at the launch of the iPhone 3GS. Surely you remember the hilarious (and embarrassing) murmur of amusement and derision from the audience at this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference when Scott Forstall introduced MMS? “29 of our carrier partners in 76 countries around the world will support MMS at the launch of iPhone OS 3.0,” Forstall announced, then, trying to keep a straight face, added, “In the United States, AT&T will be ready to support MMS later this summer.”

Still, that little fact hasn’t stopped Monticelli suing, though I’m sure he won’t get far. I’ll never quite understand the litigation-happy nature of some of my American cousins (here in England we prefer to send strongly-worded letters of complaint) but it got me thinking about the now-forgotten drama of iPhone MMS. I can’t help wondering — was it really such a big deal? I mean, now you’ve got it, do you ever use it? Would you truly miss it if it disappeared overnight?

When MMS first appeared via the iPhone OS 3.0 update I couldn’t wait to try it out. I took a photo of a bowl of apples (go figure) and sent it to a pal. “I have MMS!” I declared, proudly. “So?” he enquired, puzzled. (I forget sometimes not everyone is an iPhone user and therefore have always had MMS.) That was back in June, a good five months ago. It was the first — and last — iPhone MMS I ever sent.

Old Habits…

Color me conditioned by my experience with previous iPhone OS limitations, but if I want to send someone a photo I instinctively use the Mail app. I’m not alone, either — fellow iPhone owners never send me MMS messages but also choose to use Mail instead (I know because of all those “Sent from my iPhone” footers I keep seeing).

I’m trying to figure out when and how this habit started; it’s easy to say it’s the result of Apple’s decision not to support MMS functionality, but if I force my grey cells to work a little harder, and think back to those dark times before the iPhone, I don’t have any fond memories of MMS. Sure, I had the function on every one of my old phones, but I barely ever used it. So perhaps my aversion to MMS started then…

Either way, I don’t care for MMS. It’s a clunky old technology that never mattered to me. Not even my most geeky of friends ever bothered using it, with or without adding an iPhone into the equation.

Apple’s Chief of iPod/iPhone Marketing Greg Joswiak once said the iPhone originally didn’t include (amongst other things) MMS functionality because it wasn’t high on the list of features customers wanted from their mobile phones.

Naturally, there was an outcry. People were either ambivalent (they didn’t care or simply accepted email was an adequate alternative) or they were furious. Spend a little time picking through any of the popular Mac discussion boards from 2007 onward and you’ll find plenty of disgruntled punters lamenting Apple’s decision to not support the feature.

You know how, when a child isn’t playing with a toy, and you try to take the toy away, the child will instantly want it and make a scene if they don’t get it? It’s that peculiarly human tendency to want what we don’t have, or what is being taken (or withheld) from us. Well, I wonder, was the outcry over MMS the same thing? And now we have it, how many of us are actually using it?

If you’re in the States and didn’t jailbreak your iPhone, MMS is still fairly new to you and you might still be enjoying the novelty of finally getting it working. So, while MMS is fresh in your minds (and your iPhones) perhaps you can answer the question — where do we really stand with MMS?

Is it an indispensable tool Apple had no business keeping from us this long? Or should we reluctantly (and perhaps a little bashfully) admit it wasn’t worth all that fuss and noise — Apple was right not to make it a priority and, if we’re really truthfully honest, we never used it anyway…


Comments have been disabled for this post