Considering the iPhone had email, MMS wasn't really at the top of my "must-have feature" list for the 3.0 software update, but when it was announced anyway, I shrugged my shoulders with indifference. Only now that indifference has become annoyance with the discovery that the iPhone now refuses to send group SMS messages, instead forcing you to send them as group MMS.
Discussions over on the Whirlpool forums have some people arguing this is a feature rather than a bug – apparently some telcos around the world only charge per MMS sent, rather than per SMS received. So if you send an MMS to six people, you only get charged once, where sending an SMS would see you charged six times. However, as is also discussed, most people on cap plans have SMS, but not MMS included in their contract, meaning that it's still cheaper to send 100 SMS rather than 1 MMS.
The problem seems to affect all iPhones, regardless of carrier, although Whirlpool hackers have come up with a workaround for Optus customers. Telstra is also aware of the problem, sending this message to reader William's wife:
"Service Message: If your iphone is running 3.0 OS any SMS sent to 2 or more recipients gets converted and charged as an MMS. A fix is being developed & we will notify when this has been completed. You can turn off MMS funcionality through the "settings" menu to avaid MMs charges in the interim."
So if this has happened to you, it appears you have two options: switch off MMS in the settings menu whenever you want to send a group SMS, try this fix on the Whirlpool forums. Although a third option would also be to bitch about it to both your carrier and Apple. Considering I'll never use MMS, I'm gonna go for the first one.
[Whirlpool – thanks William!]