iOS 5's iMessage chops carrier SMS routing traffic
User's data implies power shift to Apple
Apple's iMessage may be killing text messaging - or the text messaging revenues made by network operators, at least.
Yes, it's not hard empirical data, but one iPhone user, Nevan Mrgan, has charted a major drop-off in text messages sent once he upgraded his handset to iOS 5, which introduced iMessage.
iMessage routes SMS notes via Apple's servers if the recipient's iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch is connected to the internet over Wi-Fi. As such it bypasses the carrier's SMS infrastructure. The network operator does relay the message if the device isn't connected by Wi-Fi, or the recipient has no iMessage-compatible account.
We've seen no data to indicate that iMessage is better - or worse - than network-hosted SMS relays, but it is, for some, cheaper. Here in the UK, we're used to texting for free through the monthly contract, though PAYG-ers are not all so lucky. And many folk overseas pay extra for messages beyond allowances.
If Mrgan's data is typical, then it suggests not only that carriers risk losing cash from very heavy texters, but also that iDevice owners are generally texting other iDevice users.
It also shows how Apple - and other smartphone OS makers, if they implement such techniques - can wrest control away from carriers.
But not too far. At least not until Apple, Google et al own national wireless infrastructures of their own. ®
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A sample of one? Wow this is possibly the most baseless conclusion in the history of the internet. I expect better from the Register. So this one person has embraced iMessage, OK that's proven... but given that this person is just one in a sea of millions with all kinds of devices, price plans and friends it means absolutely nothing unless you could prove somehow that this person is the definition of the average user (I doubt it given they made these stats in the first place).
<badsciencemode>I've barely send SMS for years, so according to the logic presented here this obviously this means SMS has been on the decline for years.</badsciencemode>
<reality>I have no friends</reality>
See the problem?
Typical app-writer design
Apple engineers aren't telecoms engineers. So this kind of basic end-to-end integrity stuff (which mobile networks have done for years) simply isn't implemented.
Is this really a bad thing?
As a Jesus phone user I noticed that a lot of my outgoing texts had a blue (iMessage) background opposed to a green (SMS) background when sending text messages to friends and family with iPhones after the IOS5 upgrade.
Now we all know that most CSPs offer a zillion free texts when buying into a contract, but this usually only covers messages within the U.K.
My son lives in South Africa and the girlfriend lives in France, none of these are covered by O2's free text service, so Apple's iMessage is an absolute bonus for me and anyone else who sends texts abroad to recipients with iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S.
I also had no issues with the usual text message delays we usually experience over new year's eve/morning when almost the entire population try and send messages of goodwill and cheer to one another. All the iMessages went through almost instantaneously
Call it what you want, for me it's sheer convenience and saves me a little bit of money :¬)
Wi-Fi is not required
You can send iMessages and avoid SMS when communicating between two iOS 5 devices, whether they are using Wi-Fi or, in the case of the iPad and iPhone, 3G.