Screen shot 2011-06-07 at 9.18.09 AM

iMessage Makes Texting Obsolete, Surprises Cell Carriers

Posted in News on 07/06/2011 by J. Glenn Künzler

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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?

[AppleInsider]



  • Anonymous

    I was just thinking to myself that I would probably be canceling my texting plan because of this – after all, the iPhone plans are pricey enough with AT&T… but I wonder how this is going to play out with the carriers. I doubt they’ll just take this sitting down. 

  • Tonz88

    Sharing Location by iMessage was never discussed. We can only hope this is added to the list by final release! 

    • http://twitter.com/MEMPhotog MEM Photography

      You can do this within the Maps App, but not directly from the Message App.

  • Tonz88

    please ignore that, just read the official Apple blurb above. I was referring to the official keynote before. Fantastic! 

  • joe

    the carriers will still make money off data plans.

  • http://twitter.com/MEMPhotog MEM Photography

    I don’t know about in the US, but in Europe, it isn’t unknown for most contracts to have 100, 500, even 1000 free SMS messages included – by some of this data being transmitted over iMessage instead, it could end up saving them money.

    Personally I’ve sent more iMessages in the first day than I think I’ve sent SMS messages all year so far – the fact that it works on the iPad (3G or WiFi) as well is a huge plus.

  • Anon Coward

    Carriers can whinge and moan all they like, and even push Android harder in response. In non-net-neutral countries they can also block the service (Russia, China, etc). 
    From a positive perspective, the thing carriers can do with SMS that Apple can’t do over-the-top is … what happens when you aren’t in 3G or Wifi coverage? … you tend to be in 2G coverage in such cases. SMS works there. So carriers should integrate SMS into this thing if they want to stay relevant .. the upsell is the Carriers can offer mobility, and nobody else can (without integration with the Carrier).The same is eventually true with VoIP over LTE access …
    Sell your shares in Carriers IMO.

  • WT

    I know alota people that have iPhones…but not EVERYONE has an iPhone. Just like not everyone has BBM… How can iMessage extinguish the universal SMS? Besides, I don’t know about the rest of the world, but getting unlimited texting is quite inexpensive… sending images for free is a win though =D

  • WT

    I know alota people that have iPhones…but not EVERYONE has an iPhone. Just like not everyone has BBM… How can iMessage extinguish the universal SMS? Besides, I don’t know about the rest of the world, but getting unlimited texting is quite inexpensive… sending images for free is a win though =D

  • http://twitter.com/SarahJacob87 Sarah Jacob

    It’s exactly like the 99 cent app. WhatsApp which is now free…along with a ton of other apps that do the same thing. There’s no point in being upset about it!

  • http://cjsparno.com cjsparno

    Really not a big deal. There are already 3rd party apps to do this, like Meebo and AOL Messenger. If you are not sending a message to an iOS device, it goes via SMS. So don’t ditch the SMS plan yet. Besides the carriers make money on data plans still. Frankly was surprised this was not, by default, wifi only. But good for Apple. They are putting the customer before the carrier. All in all a good piece, thanks Glenn.

  • http://cjsparno.com cjsparno

    Really not a big deal. There are already 3rd party apps to do this, like Meebo and AOL Messenger. If you are not sending a message to an iOS device, it goes via SMS. So don’t ditch the SMS plan yet. Besides the carriers make money on data plans still. Frankly was surprised this was not, by default, wifi only. But good for Apple. They are putting the customer before the carrier.

  • Fonseca_eduardo

    Biggest fail: no iMessage on Lion. Besides that, awesome :D

  • http://www.macinations.net moldor

    Less of an issue for us in Australia as all phone plans come with a text message component built in (no separate package needed), but a couple of the carriers will be fuming about it – probably do stupid crap like block iMessage through 3G. And with no pervasive wifi in many cities, this could work.

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  • rumple

    I don’t get it, people pay for texting, imessage never changed that fact lol

Author

J. Glenn Künzler

Glenn is Managing Editor at MacTrast, and has been using a Mac since he bought his first MacBook Pro in 2006. Now he's up to his neck in Apple, and owns an old iBook, a 2012 iMac with an extra Thunderbolt display for good measure, a 4th-generation iPad, an iPad mini, 2 iPhones, and a Mac Mini that lives at the neighbor's house. He lives in a small town in Utah, enjoys bacon more than you can possibly imagine, and is severely addicted to pie.