Among the many things that Apple announced yesterday was a new feature called iMessage, built in to the messaging app in iOS 5. It allows users of ALL iDevices to send texts, photos, videos, locations, and contacts without a messaging plan – something which it seems is surprising to carriers.
A report from Daring Fireball suggests that Apple’s wireless carrier partners were not informed about iMessage, and in fact were surprised to hear about it. With iMessage essentially allowing unlimited free text messages via Wi-Fi or 3G, this is something that could cost carriers money in the long run.
In addition to providing the free messaging abilities, iMessage also enables additional features, such as read receipts, and the ability to use encryption for your text messages, and track messages across multiple devices.
Apple has at times been at odds with the wireless carriers over new features in the iPhone. Late last year, European carriers threatened to discontinue subsidies for the iPhone after reports emerged that Apple was developing an embedded SIM card that would allow customers to shop for wireless service directly from the Apple store.
I have no doubt that there will be people that cancel their texting plans in favor of iMessage – the ultimate question is, with Apple holding all the cards, what are the carriers going to do about it?