According to sources, Google is working on its own version of iMessage, the exclusive instant messaging client that’s built into iOS. Details are scarce at the moment, but it would make perfect sense for Google to jump on board, like other competitors have.
The exclusive instant messenger trend began last year, when Research In Motion announced BlackBerry Messenger, an exclusive service that allowed BlackBerry users to communicate via text and pictures with other BlackBerry users. And on Monday, Apple announced iMessage, a similar service that will be part of iOS 5.
BlackBerry Messenger has been popular among BlackBerry users, and now with iMessage gaining interest on iOS, Google might have found it wise to look into developing a similar service, at least according to "sources familiar to the matter". Currently, Android offers a rudimentary text-only Google Talk client, although instant messaging clearly hasn’t been the company’s top priority.
Having multiple proprietary instant messaging services on an OS-by-OS basis might sound like a stupid idea at first, but it’s actually pretty smart: if all users of a platform are automatically brought on board, the need for traditional SMS will be fairly limited. Users will simply be able to use their internet connection to communicate with other users, without an extra fee or the 160-character limit. In The Netherlands, free messaging services like WhatsApp have surged in market share over the last year, mainly due to fast adoption among a younger generation of users.
Carriers, as one might expect, aren’t completely on board with the power grab. Deutsche Telekom Chief Executive Rene Obermann went as far as saying that SMS is "a very established way to communicate" and that not everyone is technologically savvy enough to use online messaging services:
Not everybody is a techno freak, and not everybody wants to deploy these new applications such as WhatsApp.
Maybe having a compelling over-the-web messaging client built into every phone will get those mainstream users to move away from SMS to the cheaper online option. Once they do, however, carriers will surely find a way to limit it, since net neutrality laws are still several years away from coming to fruition.
Will Google and Apple succeed with their own messaging services just like RIM did with BlackBerry Messenger?
(via Wall Street Journal)