12mail_receiveAT&T supposedly turned on MMS service for iPhones today, enabling video message transmissions. If you’ve got an iPhone with an unlimited data plan, though, there are already apps that remove the need for MMS. 12seconds’ 12mail is my favorite because of its Twitter-like hook: Instead of 140 characters, you get 12 seconds of video limit.

Why 12 seconds? Co-founder Sol Lipman says they started with 10 seconds, but it was always a couple of seconds too short. 15 seconds was too long. Twelve seconds feels just right.

I asked Lipman to compare 12seconds to MMS video:

– 12mail is free, MMS costs money
– MMS does not integrate with your networks on Twitter and Facebook.
– 12mail will work on 3G and Gen 1 iPhones by sending a picture with a twelve second audio overlay. MMS does not support this.

I don’t have any brilliant insights here except that it’s 100% certain that MMS will spawn some immensely popular iPhone app that no one thought of until MMS went live. But I really do think that 12mail could become the people’s choice for video messages. Why? Because knowing all incoming messages will be cut off after 12 seconds makes me enthusiastic about video mail, instead of afraid of it.

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