Carriers let out a harmonious groan when Apple unveiled its new iMessage service last year. Not only was it a texting alternative, but it would automatically switch users over from texting to iMessaging if both parties were on iOS 5 devices.

Unsurprisingly, this has had a significant impact on the wireless industry and its subsequent text messaging business. According to a new report, the amount of text messages sent during Q3 this year declined for the first time ever…

Fierce Mobile (via 9to5Mac) reports:

“U.S. mobile operators raked in third quarter 2012 data revenues of $19.9 billion, up 3 percent quarter-over-quarter and 17 percent year-over-year–despite suffering their first-ever decline in overall text messaging traffic and revenues, according to new research from Chetan Sharma Consulting.

Although U.S. subscribers still send an average of more than 650 text messages per month, data indicates that messaging revenues have peaked, Sharma said. “It might be early to say if the decline has begun or the market segment will sputter along before the decline takes place.”

We certainly saw the decline in text messaging coming. During Apple’s iPad mini event last month, Tim Cook announced that iOS users sent more than 300 billion iMessages in its first 12 months at a rate of nearly 28,000 per second.

And iMessage isn’t the only texting alternative out there. There’s Google Voice and Kik. WhatsApp announced last year that it was delivering more than a billion messages a day. And don’t forget about social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

The good news for carriers is that as one pay-for service declines, another rises. Wireless providers brought in $19.9 billion in data revenues last quarter, up 3% quarter-over-quarter and 17% yoy. And with more and more devices getting built-in cellular radios, we don’t expect this growth to stop anytime soon.

How do you text? Do you send carrier text messages, or do you use iMessage or some other service?

  • With unlimited texts on my contract ,imassage is only good on my iPad so it’s off on my iphone

  • I have unlimited texts, but I still prefer iMessages. 🙂

  • Alexa21

    I use iMessage and text plus. Sometimes when I have a low signal and when texting friends that don’t have an iDevice it sends as a text message.

  • Al

    I tell people every chance I get there’s no reason for a text message plan due to there is so many services. For example, I use google voice for text messaging and iMessage with for family that have enabled iDevices. It’s crazy how many services out there as an alternative to carrier expensive messaging services.. Jus have to do some research, and start saving 🙂

  • Remember there is still a lot non-Apple devices out there
    I don’t see iMessage as the biggest impact here…bigger role has been played by others like WhatsApp, which has more users/usage and covers most devices…
    I personally use WhatsApp more than iMessage, because not everyone in my network uses iMessage 😉

    • Blake

      About 2.5 billion iMessages are sent on a daily basis. Which is two and a half times more than whatsapp

      • jorith

        google that, you will see whatsapp far exceeds imessage in send messages. “new daily record: 4B inbound, 6B outbound = 10B total messages a day!” From their twitter.

        But still, services “like” imessage are killing sms. but to be frank, i dont think apple is even making a dent with this. Plus, its just stupid, blackbarry already proved it sucks to have a closed messages system, why copy??

      • mickey

        The difference with imessage is that it is automatic and seamless. A lot of times I notice oblivious iphone users don’t even know that they are using imessage. With whatsapp the other party has to use it. Nice if everyone in your circle has/uses it but carrier SMS is still needed for those that don’t. 1 app for all your messages. Easy peazy.

  • Damian W

    i checked my stats for messages. It says 100 phone msg and 2000 iMessages sent 🙂

    • How do you check that?

      • Damian W

        there is an app on Cydia called SMS STATS. It is free.

  • ArthurTyukayev

    I don’t get that though. Most carriers bundle Talk + Text.

  • I think the only reason why iMessaging is as popular as it bis is because it’s on by default and people either don’t know how to turn it off or don’t feel like disabling it.

    • No, iMessage allows for superfast MMS and SMS, and best of all, is free, though cellular usage or some might cost.

      • jorith

        To be honest, my text messages go trough faster then imessages. BUT, why would anyone want to disable it?? :O

      • Same with me …. normal SMS and whatsapp perform faster in transmission of both text messages and messages with attachments.

  • Latrese

    I have unlimited texts & iMessage turned OFF. I only have 3 people in my contacts with iPhone. Everyone else has android. And it’s a hassle going Into a non-stock app ,,so I don’t bother and use what I’m paying for

    • WhatsApp then? WhatsApp can send to Android

      • Latrese

        Like I said I don’t like the experience of mainly using a non-stock messenger. It’s a me thing lol

  • Apple please stop making us send those international messages to activate imessage…:(

  • I have had 200 texts a month since 2008. I have gone over a few months until I started using Google Voice and when iMessages came out I have never gone over 50 texts.

  • MagicDrumSticks

    The problem is that these services are only used by people who like to explore apps and know what to like for.

    The majority of my family will only answer a text message sent the old fashioned way.

    iMessage is nice, but unless everyone you know has an iOS 5 or higher iPhone I don’t see it replacing texting.

    • More than enough people have iPhones on iOS 5 and i dont see how that is not significant considering 2.5 billion of them are sent each day and 26 of 40 contacts i have are using iMessage.

  • What do we care? Carriers are always getting over on the consumer, this is their payback.

  • iamnotfan

    I dont know how it goes but it goes
    I have unlimited sms plan

    Dont care

  • i have ulimited messages. i only send imessage to a few people but i saw a huge decline in my att texts. it honestly doesnt change my texting experience so i have it all on. i dont kik or any of the others cuz im not cheap

    • if your not cheap then buy everyone here unlimited text so we can be just like you.

  • I have found in my experience using iMessage that a lot of messages I send out never reached the other party even though the status shows delivered. And messages sent out to me were never delivered. It has caused me a lot of misunderstandings. I currently use the same iMessage account across my iMac, MacBook Pro, iP4S and the MacAir. Doing screen captures of these ‘missing’ messages cleared up some mess … but …. it’s just not reliable in my experience.

  • burlow

    in the past year i’ve moved to 90% imessage, but it’s still not enough to drop by $5/200txt/mo plan, as I would only have to send 25 texts to hit $5 (<— RIP OFF btw). I'm usually in the 40-60 texts per month now with the few contacts who refuse to get an iOS device.

  • There really isn’t a difference between texting and iMessage. Other than the name and on data vs Cell reception. I still have a lot of friends with black berries and android devices. Apple has noticed that many iMessages mainly because no one turns them off. Why would you? Majority of people with smart phones text a lot anyway so most likely they have unlimited texts. I personally think iMessage was a fail. It doesn’t compare to BBM at all. It offers nothing new or interesting other than a blue bubble. iMessage only makes an impression for iPads and iPods. Apple needs to make their emoticons cross platform at least for the regular smile, wink, sad, angel, shades emoticon. All the other ones can be apple only, but it’s annoying if I send a simple smiley to someone not on iOS, theu just see a lame box. I personally think that’s why BiteSMS does so well, and other apps like Kik and WhatsAPP.

  • I’m suprised no one mentioned Viber! Most of the features What’s App has, is free, international, cross platform, can make free wifi/cell data phone calls or texts from it AND send regular texts AND regular calls as well as being able to view all Viber or regular contacts. An is ad free. How do you beat that?

  • bigfodee

    Yup, I refuse to pay what they ask for texting, so I have it disabled on my phone. imessage is great since the only person I text is my wife, and she also has an iPhone.
    I do have Google Voice and a JB app that integrates it with the iPhone’s messaging system if I ever have to text anyone else.

  • I don’t use iMessage a whole lot, I prefer Whatsapp!