iMessage – what difference will it make?

iMessage – what difference will it make?
When Scott Forstall introduced iMessage back at WWDC, the first thought that came to mind was that a shift in the way we text might very well be on its way. With its ability to send free messages, photos, videos, and more to any other iOS device, iMessage indeed has the potential to change text messaging as we know it, at least for iDevice owners. Nevertheless, is it really going to make that much of an impact and could it possibly make paying for text messages irrelevant? Now that the initial hype is finally starting to settle, it is time for us to take a closer look at iMessage and evaluate its chances.

First of all, we have to make it clear that iMessage is simply not what will replace the text messages that we are all familiar with today. On one hand, we have its limitation to work only on iOS devices and potentially Macs in the future. So, unless everybody in the world owns an iPhone, good old texting is still going to be around.

On the other hand, we have the wireless carriers who are definitely not going to give up the profits that they make from selling texting plans to their subscribers. Apple designed iMessage to be seamlessly integrated with its regular messaging app and gave it the ability to determine whether the person that you are texting can receive iMessages or not. Thanks to that, users will have no troubles avoiding charges for text messages at any possible moment, sometimes without even realizing it. It is interesting to know that none of the carriers were aware of iMessage up until it got introduced mere days ago. Call it intuition, if you will, but something tells us that they were not happy to find out that their profits from texting could be in danger. Will carriers step in and limit the usage of the free service in some way?

We should also point out how similar iMessage appears to be in functionality when compared to RIM's BlackBerry Messenger – both do pretty much the same while running only on their respective platforms. BBM has been around for quite a while already, and even though it has a lot of loyal fans, its effect on the way we communicate has not been of massive proportions. However, iMessage has one major advantage that might cause BlackBerry owners to jump on board of the iPhone bandwagon – the ability to work over Wi-Fi without the need for using up your data allowance. On the contrary, BBM does not come for free – using it is only possible if you have signed up for a BlackBerry plan, which is another bill burning a hole through your monthly budget.

Now that one major smartphone platform will have its own integrated messaging system, could we possibly get a similar functionality in Android and Windows Phone devices in the future? Nobody knows at this moment, but there may be a trend forming before our eyes. If iMessage picks up in popularity enough to make smartphone users drop their old handsets in favor of the iPhone, Google and Microsoft might adopt the idea and develop alternatives of their own.

So, even though iMessage will be yet another reason to own an iOS device, it is not very likely to witness too major of an impact by it at this time, and it is still too early to write off plain old text messages completely. However, if you have an entirely different opinion on the matter, feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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