iOS 5, Google Plus or Facebook killing SMS?

RIP SMS? Not so fast.

One of the best features of the new iOS 5 that will land on October 12th is the iMessage application, the new IM specially made for the Apple mobile ecosystem that will allow iOS-based devices to exchange messages, videos, photos and so much more. The new iMessage application is part of the iOS 5 software update compatible with  the iPod Touch 3rd and 4th generation, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, the iPad 1 and iPad 2, and the new iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 8GB.
 The iMessage is similar to Research in Motion’s BlackBerry Messenger, Google’s new Google+ with the Messenger service formerly called Huddle.

Facebook, the most popular social networking site today, is also in the IM war with its own Messaging application integrated in the native website and mobile apps for Android and iOS. Apparently, Apple wants to create its own vibrant ecosystem with a new messaging app exclusively for the iOS devices.

Apple’s rival, Samsung Mobile, is also expected to release its own instant messaging application, the ChatON application. The Samsung ChatOn application, according to Samsung Mobile, will work “across all major smartphone and feature phone platforms,” and unlike the Apple exclusive iMessage, “will be made available gradually across all major Smartphones, Tablets, notebook PCs and Samsung feature phones,” like Android, Windows Phone and even the budget friendly Bada OS-powered Samsung devices.

Mobile phone makers are obviously competing by making their devices more flexible when it comes to sending and receiving messages by offering alternatives, and the consumers are definitely enjoying these apps. But, wireless carrier are most likely not enjoying these innovations, and a report said billions of dollars are at stake.

According to a NY Times article posted on Sunday, wireless carriers are generating billions in revenue from the text messages, the traditional short messaging service first used commercially in 1993. The article is claiming that the way smartphone users communicate is changing, and wireless carriers are ready to “shift.”

One of the best examples is Sprint’s unlimited data offerings. Sprint, apparently, is the newest member of the Apple ecosystem, and they’re offering unlimited data bundled with the iPhone 4S and the older iPhone 4 just to attract more customers coming from other wireless carriers. With the unlimited data plan, customers can enjoy unlimited IM exchanges without worrying about their monthly phone bill and the so-called “extra GB.”

But here’s the problem, IM apps, like in Android, requires continuous data/internet connection and the so-called “Background Data” syncing that will allow the smartphone app to instantly receive the message from another party, and this kind of opt-in requires battery juice.

Smartphone, today, arguably can’t still live without SMS because the battery technology is not yet ready for “prime time.” But the smartphone technology is advancing so fast, and it is only a matter of time before mobile devices are ready to give more battery power to support longer IM usage.

Are you willing to give up SMS today?

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