A recent post from Giga OM takes a look at the growing trend of third-party messaging services (BBM, iMessage, Skype, and Google Voice to name a few) and how their free services are affecting the SMS revenues of the telecommunications corporations. Just this last year, AT&T required its new subscribers to choose between an unlimited SMS plan and a pay-per-text plan, perhaps hoping to capitalize on subscribers of the pay-per-text plans who end up texting more than they thought they would. But while the main obstacle to the proliferation of third party messaging services is their inability to function across platforms, the next year or so could see the development of an app that makes that possible. In the meantime, carriers will likely find ways to restructure their SMS plans, akin to what AT&T is doing, in order to pull whatever revenue from texting they can for as long as possible.
However, Martin Sauter of WirelessMoves makes an interesting comment about why people may decide to still use SMS, despite the additional costs:
Perhaps SMS will become or remain an alternative for people who like privacy and services that don’t store and analyze messages for targeted advertising, building social graphs, etc. After all, unlike for web-based services for which users don’t pay anything and are in fact NOT the customer but only a source of information that can be monetized and on top give up some of their privacy, for the SMS service they might still be that: The customer, who pays for the service of sending and receiving messages, free from other needs of monetization such as selling information gained to third parties.
So the question revolves around the value of personal data being shared with third parties versus a monthly fee. Essentially, the user would be paying the carriers for an extra layer of personal security. It’s an interesting proposition, though I’m sure that some would point at the amount of other widely used online services that share personal information and preferences with third parties, and question the utility of adding a layer of security to information that is likely already being accessed elsewhere.
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