First T-Mobile raised rates for businesses to send text messages to people. Then Sprint followed suit, leading to leading media companies, such as ESPN to stop supporting Sprint customers for their popular sports-score text messaging service. (Yes, 4INFO has a competing service too. We didn’t stop supporting Sprint customers, but many of our partners did.) Now AT&T has taken a different approach, changing their text messaging plans to allow only for an “all you can eat” plan or a 20 cents per message plan – nothing in between.
It sounds to me like the carriers don’t care about text messaging. This is hard to understand, because I see text messaging as a cash cow for them. Text messages are very small, in terms of data size, and basically use the space in between larger data communications that would otherwise go unused. Text messaging allows carrier to make money on bandwidth that would otherwise go unused. And yet, they seem intent in killing the goose that laid the golden egg with price increases.
Despite the fees, text messaging is more popular than ever, with anywhere from 68% to 89% of mobile phone users engaging in text messaging. It is more popular than apps, and more popular than surfing the mobile web.
Apple has announced a new “iMessenger” messenger service. Blackberry messenger has kept users loyal to that device, despite a multitude of other complaints. Samsung just announced its own messaging tool, OnChat.
Clearly messaging is a desirable feature for mobile phone owners. They’re willing to pay for it, and they use it as a differentiator when choosing which brand mobile phone they’re going to buy. So why are the carriers giving up on it so easily?