Sean Parker probably never said “a million dollars isn’t cool” but it’s sort of true.
There’s an interesting angle to the iMessage news and that’s the effect on the carriers and the SMS industry. One of the most compelling and disruptive elements of BlackBerry Messenger is that it’s success has cost the carrier a tremendous amount of money in text messaging fees because users are sending their messages over RIM’s servers and opting our of SMS plans. That’s not to say that the carriers don’t love BlackBerry because there’s obviously a new source of revenue being generated in data plans which they love, but they still must feel the effects of BBM. Last we heard, BlackBerry Messenger users sent 100 billion messages per month. What is going to happen to SMS when users are spread out across BBM, iMessage and other IM apps such as Live Profile. Is this the death of SMS in North America?
Americans sent 2.1 trillion messages in 2010 and the industry has generated 81 billion dollars globally as of 2006. A lot of SMS traffic happens in regions where smartphones aren’t as popular such as China and South East Asia, but these are also regions where BlackBerry has seen incredible growth. It’s only a matter of time until the other smartphones such as Windows Phone and Nokia get turned on to the idea of a BBM-style platform and the carriers and businesses that rely on SMS will have lost that revenue entirely. It’s going to start in North America and eventually the world, but with BBM and iMessage, we’re starting to see a significant dent in global SMS usage.
Will the carriers fight back or embrace it as more users get turned on to smartphones? Carriers could simply raise data costs to make up for lost revenue, or they could begin to sniff out BBM and iMessages in order to try and tax the user.