Pundits I’ve decided are largely short-sighted. You’d think after writing about the mobile industry for years and years, and the tech industry for just as long, they would start to get the bigger picture of things. Case in point: Apple announced iMessages as a key portion of its upcoming iOS 5. Many of the people covering this are saying how it will kill the carriers revenue from already overpriced SMS plans. Whoop-dee-doo.
These people are looking at it the wrong way. Smart carriers will be annoyed in the short term with Apple’s move (which was apparently news to them as well), but love it long term. So with iMessages you no longer will need to pay $10-15/month for an unlimited SMS plan, as you’ll be able to chat free with your iOS buddies (200Million of them worldwide by the way). You’re going to effectively be locked in to iOS the same way your wall street cousin was locked in to Blackberry Messenger for the last 10 years. Many, many, many people kept using and buying Blackberries SOLELY for BBM capabilities, those people now have a decent reason to quit and jump ship to iOS devices.
So the carrier sees you cancel your $10/month SMS plan, that sucks for them in the short term, but now that you’re locking yourself into a long term play with iPhone for iMessenger, you aren’t going to consider switching to a feature phone or even an Android next. So you’re going to keep paying that $30-40/month for your unlimited data. So $120/year from SMS (which realistically people won’t cancel SMS entirely, but will drop to cheaper plans, say $60/year) gone, but $360-480/year in data fees locked in. Not such a bad situation to be in for the carriers.
They could have been screwed by Apple much worse if Apple had been so inclined.