Multimedia Messaging Service
Camera phones can share pictures almost instantly and automatically via a sharing infrastructure integrated with the carrier network. Early developers including Philippe Kahn envisioned a technology that would enable service providers to "collect a fee every time anyone snaps a photo." The resulting technologies, Multimedia Messaging Service and Sha-Mail were developed parallel to and in competition to open Internet based mobile communication provided by GPRS and later 3G networks.
The closed sharing infrastructure was critical and explains the early successes of J-Phone, DoCoMo in Japan, Sprint, and other carriers worldwide.
The first commercial camera phone complete with infrastructure was the J-SH04, made by Sharp Corporation, had an integrated CCD sensor, with the Sha-Mail (Picture-Mail in Japanese) infrastructure developed in collaboration with Kahn's LightSurf venture, and marketed from 2001 by J-Phone in Japan today owned by Softbank.
The first commercial deployment in North America of camera phones was in 2004. The Sprint wireless carriers deployed over one million camera phone manufactured by Sanyo and launched by the PictureMail infrastructure (Sha-Mail in English) developed and managed by LightSurf.
Users of early camera phones were held captive by the MMS business model. While phones had internet connectivity, working web browsers and email-programs, the phone menu offered no way of including a photo in an email or uploading it to a web site. Connecting cables or removable media that would enable the local transfer of pictures were also usually missing.
Modern smartphones have more connectivity and transfer options with photograph attachment features.
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