It’s something you probably do every day, and while the technology exists to do it for free, many people are still paying for it. We’re talking of course, about texting.
The iPhone 4S and iOS deliver the promise of free texting with iMessage.
Think about it, in an age when eon -mails and other forms of advanced electronic communication (such as Skype, Twitter, and Facebook) are basically free, wireless carriers are still charging for SMS (short messaging service) or texts.
We get it; cellular networks are costly to maintain and upgrade. But when others are already delivering texts for free, you’d think wireless carriers would follow suit – if for nothing more than to make up for all the dropped calls we’ve already endured as customers. The truth is free text poses threats to carriers.
Apple to the Rescue
Leave it to Steve Jobs to make technology companies (in this case, your cellular provider) work harder to provide you with better service and products. Apple’s latest iOS5 features iMessage, which is a free app that serves up unlimited texting to ANY Apple device running iOS 5. The good? Once you update your iOS, iMessage is ready to go. You can send texts, images or video. And like Facetime, it looks like iMessage is headed for the Mac OS. The bad? iMessage is only for Apple users running iOS 5. That means if your friend is a PC, or using an Android phone, you have to find another way to text him, like…
In this corner, WhatsApp, the free texting app that works across different OSs and even multiple devices, such as the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android. WhatsApp also allows you to send images and video in addition to texts.
While there’s no cost for texting while using WhatsApp, and you can connect with people internationally using it (again also for free), take note: you’ll still be using data from your data plan when you’re using your provider to connect to the Internet to send a text.
Texting, by the numbers (Source: NY Times):
- 2 trillion: The number of text messages sent each year in the U.S.
- $20 billion: Revenue generated from texting by wireless carriers.
- $7 billion: Amount Verizon Wireless generates annually from texting (it’s 12 percent of the company’s total revenue or about a third of its operating income).
- 1/3 of a penny: What it costs wireless carriers to send a text message.
- 10-20 cents: What cellular providers charge to send and receive a text message. That’s more than a 4,000% markup.
Companies such as AT&T use services like texting as a profit center, charging users as much as 20 cents per text message for texts either sent or received. It’s a good thing there are free alternatives; texting apps are putting enterprising developers and their app development skills to good use.
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