Why iMessage Will Not Affect SMS Marketing

Apple is coming out with a new technology called iMessage that allows iOS users (iPhones, iPads, and iPods) to send messages to each other without the use of SMS. This is very similar to BBM, or BlackBerry Messenger service.

Recently, The Wall Street Journal published a review of this application. The advent of this new iPhone-friendly application has caused bloggers to wonder what the impact will be on SMS marketing as a whole. One reviewer from Tech Crunch believes iMessage will replace the use of SMS. Sadly, he is mistaken.

First off, iMessage is SMS. Apple has acknowledged the importance of text-based mobile communication and has built their app to satisfy this growing need. As the original Wall Street Journal article indicates, SMS is still growing in popularity. And while iMessage might be useful for a few friends who are all on iOS devices, this technology has several limitations:

  • While the TechCrunch author is right to point out the iOS platform is now used in over 200 million mobile devices, from a marketing stand point this still leaves out a significant demographic of mobile device users.
  • iOS now trails Android in the number of current users. This means iMessage is not even made for the most popular smartphone platform.
  • Less than 10% of mobile subscribers in the US have an iPhone, while nearly every phone in use now is SMS capable.

In short, while this new app may be convenient for a few die-hard Apple fans, iMessage is limited to the iOS platform. Any service limited to one platform will never be a prolific as one that works on not just all smartphones, but ALL mobile phones like SMS.

iMessage will not assist a business owner in marketing and developing client conversations. Nor will this app alone help an organization use text messaging to solve more complex, business specific communication problems. (For more on these type of unique issues, visit some of the “Case Studies” in this blog).

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