Mogreet offers mobile video greetings from Fox Searchlight

Mogreet, a company that allows mobile phone users to send video messages just like texts, has sealed a deal with Fox Mobile Entertainment to use short video clips drawn from Fox Searchlight films like Juno and Napoleon Dynamite.

A “mogreet” (short for mobile greeting) is the equivalent of an animated e-card for your phone, a brief video followed by a customizable text message. Thanks to the alliance with Fox, you can now relive catch phrases like “Vote for Pedro” from Napoleon Dynamite over and over again, and express yourself with clips from Sideways, Iron Man, Tropic Thunder — and even new releases like Marley & Me — all on your phone.

The partnership has added over 50 clips from Fox Searchlight films to Mogreet’s existing library of more than 3,000 video greetings (which includes animations and user-generated content). Mogreets tailored to these films will help promote new and current releases, and maybe even extend the shelf life of classic and indie movies that weren’t necessarily blockbuster hits.

Earlier this year, Mogreet offered promotional mobile video messages for classic and new Paramount films like The Love Guru. This Fox Searchlight licensing agreement runs along the same lines. While Mogreet would not disclose its traffic volume, chief executive James Citron says that 25 percent of the company’s customers are repeat users. I can see tweens (kids age 8-12) and teenagers — who are already addicted to texting — flocking to this kind of service (especially if High School Musical mogreets become available any time soon). After all, Nielsen Mobile reports that 29 percent of mobile phone users over the age of 13 send or receive some kind of MMS message regularly.

Mogreets have certainly enhanced messaging options by incorporating video, especially as texting becomes more popular than calling. And it goes without saying that a texted apology is probably more endearing when accompanied by a video of a penitent-looking puppy. There’s actually an entire category of Mogreets dedicated to break-ups. Though I’m not sure what would be worse — being dumped by a regular text message or one preceded by a video featuring Tila Tequila (especially if the latter costs the sender 99 cents).

Multimedia messaging service (MMS) has yet to make it big in the U.S. because different cell phone manufacturers implement MMS differently. For example, sending an MMS from a Samsung phone to a Nokia phone doesn’t always work. MMS’s technologically less advanced cousin SMS is the second largest revenue driver in the mobile industry after voice.

Many in the mobile industry hope that MMS will be an even bigger success. Key players have invested billions of dollars in enabling MMS. They also increasingly spend on marketing campaigns which aim to increase the adoption of MMS. Companies like Mogreet will certainly benefit from that industry trend in future. Although MMS is gradually expanding across the Atlantic, MMS just isn’t a surefire method for mobile marketing and advertising yet, and may not be for a while, according to Wireless Week.

Mogreet’s carrier partnerships with AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless and Alltel in the U.S. (plus T-Mobile and 3 in the U.K.) should help the company to develop the U.S. MMS market further and gain some traction. It says its services can work with around 70 percent of all cell phones. Mogreets range in price from free ad-supported messages (like this one for the film Marley & Me, in essence a 20-second trailer) up to $0.99 cents. Subscription-based pricing models are underway for early 2009, which will allow users to send an unlimited amount of Mogreets for a flat rate.

The Venice, Calif.-based company recently brought in $5 million in a second round of funding.

The first 100 VentureBeat readers who enter the promotional code “VBeat” on Mogreet.com will be able to send free holiday Mogreets. (But are there any mogreets dedicated to wishing friends Happy Festivus? Sadly no, but I’m hoping there will be next year).

Matthäus Krzykowski contributed to this article.


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