Text messaging is huge with more than a billion texts sent per day. But why bother with words when you can send a video? Texting looks pretty old fashioned compared to a "Mogreet" mobile video message.
As of this week you can send a video message to virtually any mobile phone on one of the five major mobile carriers--AT&T , Verizon , Sprint , Alltel and T-Mobile--thanks to deals Los Angeles-based Mogreet announced just this week.
Here's how it works now: go to mogreet.com,or to social networks including Facebook and MySpace and pick from Mogreet's 2,000 recorded video messages. Many include celebrities, singers or extreme sports stars (perfect, for the teen audience this service targets). Plug in your mobile number--it'll charge your phone bill 99 cents--and plug in the recipients. Customize the message, and they'll get a notification in their in box that they've got a video. Say "I'm sorry," "I'm running late," "come to my party," for example. Starting next month you'll be able to send messages from your phone to any other phone.
Thanks to Mogreet's exclusive deal with handset maker Motorola it'll get even easier and quicker to send a Mogreet. Motorola is embedding a number of video messages onto a chip its putting into all its new phones starting later this year. Motorola wants to show off the video capabilities of its handsets.
The mobile carriers are also on board- eager to grow revenue from their "data services" category that includes texts- one of their fastest growing. And for a company like AT&T which has the iPhone, it's a natural with the big colorful screen. As texting is increasingly included in flat rate plans, this kind of premium message is exactly what they need to grow revenue. The head of the VC fund that backs Mogreet, DFJ Frontier, says that based on the number of texts sent, and the number he thinks could be converted to Mogreets, this could be a billion dollar business.
I spoke with Alltel's director of multi-media services Kristi Crum, who said they're embracing the product because it's such a natural extension of picture and text messaging and it's a no-risk way to add to data revenues. The privately-held mobile carrier is integrating Mogreet's into its mobile web interface called Cell Top, an easy way for customers to search content.
An open beta test got thousands of people using the service. With teens always looking for a new way to communicate with their friends, Mogreet seems to have great potential: because individuals can't yet send full videos to mobile phones, this seems to be the crucial window for Mogreet to get an audience.