updated 02:10 pm EST, Fri December 19, 2008
Enhanced Messaging Spec
The CTIA finished its week by publishing the final use conditions for a service that should enable more than two-way simple communication by phone. Called Mobile Enhanced Messaging, the format would allow three or more users to maintain an ongoing conversation; like SMS and MMS, this would work through either text alone or with extra media, including audio, photos, videos and other future content. Similar to instant messaging, users could keep buddy lists and would also have the option of a cosmetic display name rather than a strict user ID.
This system will also react to the online status of the user, the telecom association says. Where SMS and MMS are 'blind' services that don't let users know whether the recipient is available, MEM will let users opt into providing their online state and simplify starting a multi-directional chat. Privacy concerns are partly addressed by letting users block their own status without necessarily removing themselves from the entire contact list.
Preparations for the new standard are already in progress US cellular carriers and should be active in the market by summer 2009. No mention has been made of when handsets will support MEM themselves.