Apple is pretty good at the whole corporate secrecy thing – sure, people get snippets of information before a new product launch: a circuit board here, a case shot there; anything outsourced will probably hit the rumor mill a few weeks or months before an actual product lands. Not so when they keep things in house.
Take Apple’s new iMessage instant-messaging feature for iOS devices. If anyone outside of Apple knew anything about it before Steve Jobs’ WWDC 2011 keynote, they did a very good job of keeping quiet. The announcement seems to have caught even Apple’s carriers by surprise – that is if Daring Fireball’s sources are to be believed. It reported that the carriers found out at the same time as the rest of us. It can be presumed that they were not too happy.
There have been instant messaging apps available for a while now – the difference with iMessage is that it comes with iOS 5 and the servers that do the messaging magic are all Apple-owned. Aside from text messaging, the feature also allows iOS users to send photos and video – for free. The last time this author checked, SMS and MMS didn’t do that.
The trouble with iMessage is that it only works for iOS. If you own an Android, you are out of luck. This won’t kill SMS and MMS, but chances are that it will hurt SMS traffic between iOS owners… of whom there are many.