WWDC 2011: iMessage sticks it to mobile carriers

WWDC 2011: iMessage sticks it to mobile carriers

Summary: iMessage is completely carrier agnostic and since Apple controls the server -- not AT&T, Verizon or any other carrier -- it's completely free. Let's hope that Apple rolls it our for Lion as well.

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San Francisco -- Its not easy to pick a favorite new feature of iOS 5, announced here at WWDC yesterday, but iMessage is on my short list.

For the unfamiliar, iMessage is Apple's new SMS/MMS client app that will ship with iOS 5 in the Fall. Pictured at right are some iMessages displayed on the lock screen with the new "slide to reply" slider.

But why is iMessage significant?

iMessage allows iOS 5 users to send text messages, photos, videos and contact information to a person or a group over Wi-Fi or 3G and because it's not tied to a carrier or network it just works with all iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod touch).

iMessages are automatically synced to all your iOS 5 devices, making it easy to follow your conversations across your iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. iMessage also features delivery and read receipts, typing indication and secure end-to-end encryption.

But easily the most significant aspect of iMessage is the fact that it's completely carrier agnostic. In other words, Apple controls the server -- not AT&T, Verizon or any other carrier -- which means that it's completely free.

This means that the exorbitant SMS/MMS fees carriers charge are thing of the past -- when you message other iOS 5 users. Since you also text people that aren't using iOS, Apple built iMessage into its native iOS Messages app transparently so messages sent to iOS 5 users are free, but you can still text your friends on Blackberries, WinMo and WebOS from within the same app.

Although Apple's only announced iMessage for iOS 5 so far, I suspect that it won't be long before it rolls out for Mac OS X Lion as well. Think of it as FaceTime for messages.

So, is iMessage a Blackberry Messenger killer?

See related coverage:

Topics: Operating Systems, Apple, Mobile OS, Mobility

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32 comments
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  • good but...

    this only works with iOS devices. why not an open protocol that talks to other devices? will Facebook roll out its own?
    tatiGmail
  • RE: WWDC 2011: iMessage sticks it to mobile carriers

    Additionally, you need a data network to send messages, be it wifi or mobile broadband. SMS is different because you can send them without a data connection. This is absolutely no different from whatsapp, google talk, etc. Google Voice remains a better option.
    hoaxoner
    • Google Voice can not compare to Apple's solution at all

      @hoaxoner: just read the description: "The service is <b>configured and maintained by the user in a web-based application</b>" -- it is a total opposite to Apple's offer, where people should not configure, should not maintain, should have nothing to do with "web applications".
      DDERSSS
      • RE: WWDC 2011: iMessage sticks it to mobile carriers

        @DeRSSS
        Google voice is only a web based application in a browser, not on mobile devices. The mobile device version is a standalone app.
        hoaxoner
    • Absolutely no different??

      @hoaxoner <br><br>Google koolaid much or hyperbola?
      Bruizer
  • So how is it different then

    Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Twitter...
    John Zern
    • Universality

      @John Zern
      Not everyone I know uses Amazon, MS, FB, Google, or Twitter. Heck I only use one of those products myself. By contrast, *everyone* I know has a cell phone. Now I can SMS or MMS them and if they use an iDevice it's free - something I don't even need to be aware of until the bill comes.

      Of course, for *me* with my Sprint Everything plan and my EVO Shift, this is a non-issue. But since you asked I thought I'd call out the obvious...
      use_what_works_4_U
  • RE: WWDC 2011: iMessage sticks it to mobile carriers

    it is BBM light at best
    all of this is and has been present for BB users for years - nothing new despite what the fanboys may think.
    data is date and as I assume this will not be compressed as it is on BB, the carriers will still make their money
    blackman.dave
    • What's different

      @blackman.dave
      is that now everyone with an iDevice can SMS/MMS/BBM to any other iDevice without worrying about the double hit of data caps *and* messaging limits. It's a new implementation of an old idea, but isn't that true of most tech these days?
      use_what_works_4_U
  • RE: WWDC 2011: iMessage sticks it to mobile carriers

    This will not catch on because of the lock in... It sucks that you cannot use this like Google Talk.
    slickjim
    • And Android will fail...

      @Peter Perry

      Both silly statements. You really think there is no life outside your limited worldview.
      Bruizer
    • RE: WWDC 2011: iMessage sticks it to mobile carriers

      @Peter Perry I tend to agree - I have a few friends with iOS 5 compatible devices but the rest either have iPhone 3G devices which are incompatible with iOS 5 or other devices altogether (BB, Android, feature phones). For me this is a cool but personally useless feature until it's opened up beyond iOS 5 devices.
      athynz
    • Agreed

      @Peter Perry
      The audience is limited to people who have a compatible device and who don't already have another way of doing the same thing or for some reason don't like the way they were doing the same thing. That would be nobody I know.
      Schoolboy Bob
    • RE: WWDC 2011: iMessage sticks it to mobile carriers

      @Peter Perry The fact that it integrates into the standard text messaging app is what will make it catch on. If I can set those I know to have iOS 5 devices to use this method moving forward there will be no perceived difference whenever I send somebody a message. I could see it not catching on if you had to use a different app to iMessage other than the standard text app.
      non-biased
  • RE: WWDC 2011: iMessage sticks it to mobile carriers

    very likely you will have to still pay for the full data plan at the carriers, so....
    dasilvagm
    • ^

      @dasilvagm
      yup.
      Tigertank
  • RE: WWDC 2011: iMessage sticks it to mobile carriers

    Mediocre if not Useless. Whatsapp and Viber alike are way better coz they are cross-platform.
    domlee2010
  • RE: WWDC 2011: iMessage sticks it to mobile carriers

    Quote: 2011 is "year of CopyCat". Steve Job is a hypocrite
    domlee2010
  • RE: WWDC 2011: iMessage sticks it to mobile carriers

    Opt to pay per text and you're home free
    mike2k
  • RE: WWDC 2011: iMessage sticks it to mobile carriers

    This is not "Completely Free" The App might be but your paying someone for WiFi and Wireless service. The carriers won't shed too many tears as your data plan has caps and the more you send (pictures / video) the more data you use.

    I guess this is fantastic if you sit around a Starbucks sucking up the free WiFi all day with your grande and Mac Rulez T-Shirt.

    BBM killer? I guess if RIM hasn't been building out BBM to provide more, new API's, AR functionality etc. How is this any different then iChat?
    MobileAdmin