Text traffic will come under more pressure in the months ahead. This week, Apple Inc. showed off an application that will allow iPhone and iPad owners to bypass carriers and send text messages over the Internet to other people with Apple devices. Google Inc., whose Android software is the most popular operating system on smartphones, has also recently worked on a messaging application, a person familiar with the matter said.
Apple surprised carriers with its announcement of iMessage during WWDC; however, the transition from SMS messaging to Internet messaging may have already begun. In the second half of 2010, U.S. cellphone users sent more than 1 trillion texts, an 8.7% increase from the first half of the year. While still growth, it was the slimmest gain since SMS exploded last decade. As smartphones become more popular, users are increasingly turning to much more versatile online messaging systems. It may not be long before carriers will have to look elsewhere for profits and that elsewhere will likely be data charges.