With the announcement of a new, revamped messaging system with the iPhone4S, the assumption was that the new iMessage, as it was dubbed, would rival the BBM Messenger service. BlackBerry Messenger has been one of the principle reasons for the popularity of BlackBerry mobile phone deals in recent years, and Apple are hoping to increase their sales through their release of their own messaging service.
How iMessenger will work?
Your iOS5 device will be able to send free messages to other iOS 5 users when an internet connection is readily available. It will appear in the same window as texts on the iPhone or you can set up friends using a user name or email address on other devices (Just like BBM).
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BlackBerry Messenger is the most famous messaging service that helped the smartphone platform reach a wider, often younger audience. BBM allows users to send text messages and communicate with each other without using up their SMS allowances. For teenagers, this has proved invaluable, particularly the group facility, allowing users to have conversations with several friends at once. Each handset has its own PIN number, offering added security. That PIN is entered or scanned in like a barcode using the Blackberry’s camera. Sending videos, photos or just contact details it is like a mobile Windows Messenger. BBM also allows users to develop their own profile on the network, upload a picture and even show the track they are currently playing. More than a messaging service, BBM has become a social network, but a private one.
What’s the aim?
iMessage aims to target this market. Apple says it will work with any device running iOS5 and will allow users to exchange texts, photos and video using Wi-Fi or 3G. It will work on iPad and iPad 2, the iPhone 3Gs, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and the iPod Touch 3rd and 4th generation. Users will be able to pick up and continue conversations on their different devices, thanks to the iCloud.
iMessage, it would appear, is trying to get a younger audience involved with the iPhone and Apple, or a new market at that. Over half of the iPhone audience is under 35, markedly more than other smartphone users. However they are also high earners, which makes the iPhone out of the reach or interest of a younger more urban crowd. By incorporating a tried and trusted method of communication and adapting it for the Apple back catalogue, as well as a new release. Another new feature which could attract this younger market to the iPhone 4S is the Find my Friends feature, which operates with the same principle as Google’s Latitude but is better at controlling privacy. With Find My Friends you can choose to permanently or temporarily share your location with people or set parental controls. It’s included free in iCloud and integrates with Contacts and Maps.
For an older market, the new iMessage could target another of Blackberry’s key audiences; the business community. The ease of messaging on the move makes the Blackberry attractive to the business community. Whereas the fast operating system of the iPhone 4S, coupled with a BBM style messaging service could entice them over. Frequently seen as a creative device, tapping into the business community with an enhanced communication offer, iPhone could change how it is viewed in the consumer marketplace.
Other commentators have viewed Apple’s decision to make iMessage available only on an iOS platform as a savvy move. BlackBerry Messenger has been one of the main reasons for the persistent popularity of BlackBerry phones amongst youngsters in recent years, and the fact that it can only be used on RIM handsets has helped the company sell large amounts of phones. Perhaps if iMessage really takes off it will have the same beneficial effect for the sale of iPhone 4S contracts.