Twilio tackles MMS with latest API

Starting today, developers and businesses can incorporate Twilio MMS in their apps and workflows using Twilio's two-way API.

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Communication-as-a-service provider Twilio, whose application programming interfaces connect business Web and mobile apps with telecom companies, announced Thursday the launch of a brand new API — Twilio MMS.

Starting today, developers and businesses can incorporate Twilio MMS in their apps and workflows using Twilio's two-way API. It can be used with all major programming languages, and is available on standard US and Canada phone numbers and US short codes. Pricing starts at 1 cent to receive photos and 2 cents to send them.

The launch is a big one for the San Francisco-based company. It follows up on the 2008 launch of Twilio Voice and the 2010 launch of Twilio SMS, the company's hugely successful cloud-based communication platforms that now power a bevy of high-profile applications such as Uber and Lyft.

Now with MMS, Twilio is enabling developers to integrate media rich messaging capabilities into business applications, a move that Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson says opens the floodgates to making MMS a more broadly used medium for communication.

"This opens up innovation for something that used to be very difficult by making it very easy," Lawson said. "We made it so that any developer will be able to use our platform to start sending and receiving photos. It enables innovators to build."

Lawson said MMS has the potential to offer businesses high engagement rates across a broad spectrum of use cases such as e-commerce and transportation. And cost and ease and speed of implantation are certainly selling points.

Historically, adding MMS communications to an app required a special short code, which requires as long as 15 weeks to acquire and cost a minimum of $10,000 annually. With today's launch, Twilio becomes the only communications platform to make MMS available on standard US phone numbers, dramatically reducing the wait time (down to minutes instead of months) and reducing upfront cost to as little as $1.00. 

"By enabling the immediate, low-cost ability to send and receive pictures, videos and more via Twilio’s APIs, we're excited to enable a new generation of rich media applications to be built," Lawson said. "We can't wait to see what customers build."