Hats of to This Is My Next who were able to scoop Apple’s iMessage service a few hours before Scott Forstall announced it during yesterday’s WWDC keynote. iMessage is essentially a RIM killer in the sense that it’s BBM for the iPhone. And so, in one fell swoop, one of RIM’s selling points has been usurped.
iMessage lets iOS users send text, photos, videos, contacts, and group messages to other iOS devices over both 3G and Wi-Fi. So we’re talking data here, not text – which will be a god send for those stuck under AT&T’s less than generous texting plans. All data sent is fully encrypted and will appear via Apple’s brand spankin’ new notification system. iMessage also features delivery receipts, read receipts, and lets users know when someone is typing back. Moreover, users will be able to start a conversation on one device and pick it up on another. One detail not mentioned, however, is whether or not OS X Lion users will be able to text and send files via iMessage to iOS devices as well.
Interestingly enough, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber wrote yesterday that news of Apple’s new iMessage service was heretofore unknown to carriers.
A well-informed little birdie tells me that Apple’s phone carrier partners around the world found out about iMessages when we did: during today’s keynote.
Now it’s no secret what a service like iMessage is all about. Not only does it create device lock-in but it also encourages others to get on the iOS bandwagon so they can be part of the conversation, so to speak. Further, it serves as an attractive feature as it skirts around texting plans which are, more often than not, absolutely absurd.
So will carriers fight against iMessage some how?
PC World speculates:
They can simply raise the price of all smartphone data plans, or create a separate “iPhone” data plan which requires a built-in texting fee. The former would be less likely to raise the ire of Apple, so it’s more likely to happen. The carriers don’t actually want to annoy Apple, they just want to protect their dollar. Bonus: They get more money from non-iPhone owners, too.
At the end of the day, carriers care about attracting new customers and getting them to sign up for expensive data plans. The exorbitant fees they’ve been charging for texting has finally come back to haunt them and our guess is that they’ll just have to bite the bullet. An iPhone user sans a texting plan is a lot more valuable than a regular featurephone users, or hell, even an Android user.