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Text messaging is NOT dead

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CNN released an article today titled "The death of the text message". The argument being that there are now cheaper, more popular alternatives to the outlandish costs of text messaging services offered by wireless carriers.

In order to claim the death of a service, that service should no longer be used by the majority and should be experiencing a loss in profit. The 2 trillion text messages that were sent last year brought in over $9 billion in text messaging sales to the U.S. wireless industry. Not exactly a cry for help.

There is no denying that all technology evolves. We left VHS for DVD and then left DVD for Netflix. We choose VoIP over circuit switched POTS lines for our business, and mobile phones instead of land lines in our homes. But the systems that evolve must, at minimum, have the same reach and flexibility as the infrastructure they are replacing.

Innovations like BBM, iMessage, GroupMe and Kik allow communication between the same device or service, but these features don't operate together. Instead of promoting cross device communication, like SMS does, they divide communication based on phone, carrier, and/or operating system. The job of any communications service is to ensure the delivery and reception of a message, but with these options the sender has to worry about what device is receiving the message.

SMS provides a communication layer which does not discriminate to the sender or receiver. It is this universal communication layer that allowed M5 and Bluewolf  to build products like SMS for Salesforce.

In addition, the cost of using a messaging service is not free as it requires use of a data plan. Unfortunately for the consumer, wireless carriers have mostly done away with unlimited data plans, so sending messages via apps uses up your data allotment. While messaging services for smart phones are able to bypass the expensive texting plans offered by wireless companies, they still rely on overpriced data plans.

SMS and MMS services offered by wireless services are not dead, but they are evolving and they should continue to. Outlandish costs of data and text messaging plans only help the corporation, not the consumer. Until the consumer urges companies like Apple, Google and Rim to collaborate on a mutli-platform, multi-device messaging service, the control of the communication channels will only remain profitable for the wireless carrier.