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Apple's iMessage may have caught carriers off-guard

updated 12:55 am EDT, Tue June 7, 2011

Similar to Blackberry messaging, but free

The announcement of Apple's new iMessage service in iOS 5, which allows mobile device users to send MMS-like messages to each other for free, may have come as a surprise to wireless carriers, according to Daring Fireball's John Gruber and other sources. The service, which will work across both Wi-Fi and 3G, uses secure encryption and includes delivery receipts and optional read receipts -- rather a lot like Blackberry's proprietary Blackberry Messenger (BBM) service.

The new iMessage would not replace SMS or other forms of cross-platform messaging, as it is limited to just iOS devices that can run iOS 5, meaning the iPhone 3GS or later and the third- or fourth-generation iPod Touch. It would, however, cut down on the amount of profit carriers would get from the lucrative text-messaging market, which costs carriers next to nothing to provide. Under many plans, SMS text messages carry a separate charge, or are sometimes sold as a package add-on to other plans.

The iMessage service, built into the Messages app, would automatically determine if the recipient was using an iOS device and send the text, photos, images, videos, locations or contact information free of charge. Normal charges (if any) would continue to apply for messages sent to other devices. Conversations using iMessage can be kept in sync on multiple iOS devices that are all registered to the same owner.

Other third-party apps, like Whatsapp ($1), have offered the same sort of service across devices, and continue to compete as well as be an option for older iPhones and iPod Touch devices unable to run iOS 5.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Salty

    Joined: Dec 1969


    My guess

    My guess is the carriers couldn't care less. The only thing it's really gonna cut them out on is international texting . (Which a friend of mine would probably love if his boyfriend didn't have an android phone.) I think what would drive everyone nuts would be if Apple allowed iMessages on both computers as well as Android and BlackBerry, while still tied to an Apple ID. It would give them control and get more people using their platforms, and cost them almost nothing. Though that would probably piss off carrier.

  1. Peter Bonte

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not on Android and BlackBerry

    iMessage will probably work on all devices with an iTunes account but i can't see it happening soon on Android and BlackBerry, Windows tablets use a full OS so these would also be in the mix.

    This and PC-free devices are extremely important for the platform, iOS devices will boom in Asia because of these features alone. Apple will have an alternative worldwide network at almost no cost.

  1. JeffHarris

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Good First Step

    Anything that can cut into the outright thievery of text messaging fees is okay by me.

    If Apple manages to make this thing cross-platform, so much the better.

  1. Peter Bonte

    Joined: Dec 1969


    iMessage P2P ?

    I hope iMessage will work worldwide without a server storing everything, the first contact would need to be via iCloud but the messaging itself can be P2P as it does in closed networks.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Good first step

    Yeah, because we all love proprietary solutions like this!

    When it comes to Flash, no. Proprietary there is bad. Standards is good. But for this, proprietary is good.

  1. wrenchy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    iMessage on Android??

    No thank you. I'll keep that iVirus off my Android Device.


    - Sent from my Android Device.

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