A recent study by Ovum shows that iMessages on consumers’ smartphones costed cellular carriers about $8.7 billion in lost text messaging revenues in 2010 and $13.9 billion in 2011.
Apple’s iMessage service allows users to send free text messages, as long as they are using Wi-Fi. Because of this, Ovum has warned operators to change the way that they offer legacy services, like text messaging, in order to secure their future position in the messaging market.
Neha Dharia, consumer analyst at Ovum and author of the report, stated:
“Social messaging has disrupted traditional services, and operators’ revenues in this area will come under increasing pressure. Tapping into the creativity of app developers, forming industry-wide collaborations, and leveraging their usage data and strong relationships with subscribers are the key ways for operators to ensure that they hold their ground in the messaging market.”
This change from texting to iMessages and other free programs has forced wireless carriers to transition from combined plans to separate data and texting plans.
To recover some costs, Verizon has gone from allowing unlimited data plans to limited. They have also introduced a “Share Everything” plan, which is really a way for them to pay more for data.
In order to complete with iMessage and other free messaging programs, carriers will need to implement plans like this, and also gaining industry-wide support to win the battle of messaging revenue. Dharia adds:
“Operators must remain open to partnering with app developers, sharing end-user data with them and allowing integration with the user’s social connections. Working closely with handset vendors will also be important; they control some of the most popular social messaging apps, and can also provide preloaded applications. The most important factor, however, will be co-operation between telcos. They are no longer competing merely among themselves, but must work together to face the challenge from the major Internet players.”