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Building The Next Generation Of Text Messaging

CTIA has laid the groundwork for Enhanced Messaging, which is similar to SMS but enables users to include sound, animation, and presence in messages.
Text messaging has exploded in popularity in the last few years, and it has become a large revenue generator for wireless carriers.

But the industry isn't resting on its laurels, and the wireless association CTIA has laid the groundwork for the next generation of SMS messaging. The group Monday released documents that are aimed at helping mobile operators create interoperable "Enhanced Messaging" services.

Enhanced Messaging would be similar to SMS, but users could integrate sound clips, animation, texts, and locations with messages. It would differ from multimedia messaging because of presence integration, which could potentially let users alert others to where they are, as well as when they are available.

All the major U.S. carriers have agreed to the "Use Cases and Calls Flows" that the CTIA released Monday, and the industry group said Enhanced Messaging services could be available in the third quarter of 2009.

"Enhanced Messaging communications has the potential to revolutionize mobile data communications," said Steve Largent, president and CEO of CTIA, in a statement. "Text messaging has long been a huge growth opportunity in mobile data communication, and we fully expect Enhanced Messaging to take it to the next level."

The move shows the growing importance of messaging for mobile operators, and ABI Research said the market for mobile messaging will rise from $151 billion in 2008 to greater than $212 billion by 2013. Even with Enhanced Messaging, SMS is still expected to be the biggest earner, accounting for nearly 83% of all messaging revenue by 2013.

Mobile marketers may be drawn to Enhanced Messaging because of the integration of presence. This messaging could potentially make it easier for advertisers to tailor cross-carrier campaigns to a specific locations or regions.