AT&T recently announced they are dumping the 1,000 SMS per month texting plan ($10/month) and just providing two options, unlimited for $20/month and pay per message ($0.20 each). This would appear to be a direct shot across the bow at Apple, who announced iMessages1 as part of the upcoming iOS 5.
The sentiment at the time was that AT&T (and Verizon) was somewhat blindsided by Apple’s iMessages feature, which will allow iPhone users to send free messages to each other, automatically circumventing SMS. The knee-jerk reaction of most people was to instantly condemn having a text messaging plan. I find this interesting because it means one of two things:
- People don’t send a lot of text messages
- And/or it’s to almost exclusively other iPhone users
I send a lot of text messages, and I even bet 75% of them are to other iPhone users, but I don’t think I could just completely cut out my text messaging plan. At $0.20 per message it only takes 50 messages to break even at the $10 plan, and 100 messages to break even at the $20 plan. It doesn’t take much to send/receive 50 messages so I can’t believe that most people would complete cut out their SMS plan so easily. I do, however, think that many people who had the unlimited plan would downgrade to the 1000 message plan. I would have.
And this is exactly why I think AT&T did what they did. They are completely preventing people like me from downgrading to the 1000 message plan. It also forces people who previously had, and planned to keep, the 1000 message plan to make a decision. And this is where I see this plan backfiring.
People like me who have the unlimited plan will probably just stick with it because it’s unlikely a person requiring the unlimited plan could suddenly get by on 100 messages. People who have and planned to keep the 1000 message plan can keep it for the time being and will probably stay put. But those people who planned to downgrade their plan (either from the unlimited or 1000 message one) will very likely consider other options when their contract is up.
The max exodus to Verizon didn’t happen in February, but most tech-savvy people assume this is because most people were waiting for the iPhone 5. So if AT&T thinks they are/were safe they are insane. That extra $10 is now more motivation for people to leave.
I don’t have the same issues with AT&T that most people seem to have. I also don’t make a ton of calls, so maybe that’s why. I do use a lot of data and send a lot of SMS messages. I was not planning to switch to Verizon, but if iMessages suddenly causes me to drop below the 1000 SMS mark regularly, it would be tempting to make a move.
I would have thought AT&T would have made a move to attract more customers, rather than potentially push them to Verizon.
- iMessages allows iPhone users to send messages to each other without using SMS [↩]