Saturday, June 11, 2011

iMessage Versus Everyone Else; Developers Has To Evolve Or Become A Wiki Has-Been

One of the best examples of survival of the fittest, evolutionary pressure, or natural selection can be seen in how the mobile market is evolving. And with the introduction of iMessage in iOS 5, due this fall, we are seeing a lot of changes, or talk of changes in SMS, and how others like RIM's messaging implementation will be affected.

iMessage is already being herald as a winner. In the past couple of weeks, I have tried a few multi-platform messaging apps that served well enough. However, as with anything Apple, they can encroach at any moment into an field or function, that apps served, not previously available in its OS.

Developers of Whatsapp, Kik, KakaoTalk, and probably a couple of dozens others face a difficult choice this fall. Innovate or attempt to survive on other mobile platforms and leave iOS mostly to iMessage.

Like I've mentioned before regarding iCloud's impact on other cloud storage solutions, incumbents like Dropbox can see a silver lining in this. Apple competition does not necessarily mean the end of the world. There are positive examples of how Apple helped competitors.

  • Just like the iPhone brought a lot of attention to smartphones.
  • iTunes made it okay to download music.
  • iOS-based Apple TV has been great business for Roku.
  • iPad has developed a whole new mobile computing market that Microsoft previously failed to ignite on fire.  While sales of non-iPad competitors haven't caught on, it is only a matter of time before Android, Web OS, Playbook, and even Windows 8 begin to serve as strong alternatives to Apple's tablet offerings.

I am sure there are a couple of other examples. I reckon iMessage will force many innovate. And innovate goes both ways, doesn't it? Apple has a history of developing a great app only to allow it to languish. Sometimes, they come up with an incredible update such as Final Cut or allow it to due a quiet death (I am beginning to think iWeb and Ping will go down the latter path).

What of Blackberry Messaging, BBM? Word on the blog street is that RIM will release an app for both Android and iOS. And WSJ reports that Google is working on their own multi-platform messaging app or reinventing gTalk to compete.

So, I think messaging platforms will benefit from the attention that iMessage is going to bring. Instant messaging could also get a second wind as a result.

Everyone wins right? Wrong. iMessage, BBM, Google's offering, and the other messaging apps as a whole will put a big dent into the SMS growth - a cash cow for the wireless cartels across the world.

I don't have to tell you just what a rip-off SMS is. And I am safely in the majority as far as this opinion goes. While analysts do not see a sudden torrential shift in the messaging market, I think they are wrong. Dead wrong.

I predict a huge drop in the next 12-18 months as the revenue from texting takes a big hit. Just like the app developers threatened by iMessage, the wireless industry across the world will need to change. Somehow, I don't see that happening. Maybe a few can move and innovate quickly enough but most will wake up one day and wonder just where their steady and reliable billions in SMS profit went.

iMessage is both good for the wireless industry and great for mobile warriors regardless of whatever mobile platform your smartphone runs on.

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