iMessage Growth Should Worry Mobile Carriers

iMessage Growth Should Worry Mobile Carriers

iMessage and related services are gaining critical mass compared to text messaging.

Apple has put a lot of work into developing its own secure messaging platform. With Mountain Lion and the Messages app that Apple rolled out in iOS 5, Apple is setting up its iMessage platform with a lot potential advantages for consumers and business users alike. For business, the always available and secure messaging is huge. Messages and conversations can be found on an employee’s iPhone, iPad, home iMac, work MacBook Air – that’s taking the concept of RIM’s BlackBerry Messenger service to a higher level.

For consumers, the great features are the integration of non-phone devices like the iPad and iPod touch and reduced reliance on carriers for texting, which can translate to cost savings (depending on mobile carrier/plan).

While most of us still use SMS to send text messages, there’s a distinct trend in shifting to using solutions like Apple’s Message platform.

Research firm Analysys Mason recently culled through the use of Internet-based calling and messaging apps for consumers with smartphones and with feature phones. The striking point of their report is that nearly a third of smartphone owners have adopted so-called over-the-top (OTT) messaging solutions like iMessage – 29% of users reported using some type of non-carrier messaging, which likely includes iMessage, BlackBerry Messenger, and other options. 8% of users use both an OTT messaging and VoIP calling solutions.

While that’s a lot of movement to replace texting as a messaging solution, VoIP calling from smartphone is far less popular – only 11% of users report using such technologies from their mobile device.

It seems likely that this is a trend that will continue to grow, particularly among iPhone users. Apple has embedded iMessage into iOS to such an extent that using it take no thought at all.

Ultimately, this presents a conundrum for carriers, who have long been able to use texting as a revenue stream.

  • Tallest_Skil

    Screw them all. This is far less than they deserve for charging $0.05 (and then $0.10 and then $0.20) for 160 characters that costs them $0.00.000000000000 to manage on their network.

  • MacHead84

    If just one or two more people I text would get iPhones Id drop my text messaging plan with ATT immediately. Until then Im suffering thru their outrageous plan because these last few people are text message addicts.

  • iJarvis79

    This is why data matters more than ever to the carriers and talk minutes and text are a thing of the past

  • joewaylo

    Who needs SMS? We have 10,000+ Free SMS programs already out that trumps SMS. If the carriers are that worried, they would make their own Data-To-SMS solution or Instant Messenger that trumps iMessage.

  • howie_isaacks

    Screw the carriers! SMS messaging doesn’t cost them a dime to allow us to use, but they want to charge us for it anyway. Whether I use iMessage, SMS, or email, they’re still charging me for a data plan. If they don’t like us using iMessage, just let them try and tangle with Apple over this and see how far they get. Text messaging plans are a total rip-off.

  • Demonstr8r

    Verizon is rolling out a Shared Everything plan on June 28 that includes shared data plans with unlimited calling and texts for this very reason. In addition, Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility, stated earlier this month that data only plans are going to be mainstream in the next two years. So I don’t think wireless carriers are worried, they are just restructuring plans to make the same or more money.

  • ApplePr0n

    It legitimetly costs them like $.00001 per text yet they charge us $20 and $30 a month. It’s completely ridiculous and I cannot wait until iMessage gets more popular so these carriers can go F themselves.

About the author

Ryan FaasRyan Faas is a technology journalist and consultant living in upstate New York who has written extensively about Apple, business and enterprise IT, and the mobile industry. In addition to writing for Cult of Mac, he is a contributor to Computerworld, InformIT, and Peachpit Press. In a previous existence he was a healthcare IT director as well as a systems and network administrator. Follow Ryan on Twitter and Google +

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