Cloud Four Blog

Technical notes, War stories and anecdotes

First Signs of SMS Disruption?

The Washington Post is asking if new messaging apps are going to disrupt the carriers’ SMS cash cow. I’ve read articles like this in the past, but two seemingly unrelated news items from yesterday and today make me wonder if we’re finally seeing the first signs of this disruption.

First, Boy Genius Report had an exclusive that BlackBerry Messenger will launch on Android and iOS.

For those unfamiliar with BlackBerry Messenger, it is texting like service that allows you to send instant messages to any other BlackBerry for free—bypassing SMS charges.

BlackBerry Messenger is one of RIM’s greatest assets and is the reason why BlackBerry phones remain popular among youth in Latin America and the Middle East.

Second, Facebook acquired Beluga, a group messaging service. This was both a talent and technology acquisition indicating that Facebook has designs on some sort of mobile messaging solution.

When Facebook Messages was announced, everyone talked about it as a Gmail killer, but my first thought was it could take on SMS eventually. Facebook Messages are intended to be short messages without subject lines and the formality of email. Sound familiar?

More importantly, Facebook is the number one app on nearly every mobile platform which means it has an installed base that likely the nearest competitor to the pervasive presence of Facebook. When you consider that people normally text those they know best and Facebook has the largest social graph in the world, it seems like a natural fit.

Sooner or later someone is going to take on SMS with an alternative service. SMS is just too lucrative and addictive for other companies to stay away.

I wonder if this Blackberry and Facebook news is the first hint of that players lining up their pieces to make a run at replacing SMS.