Image (c) Monty Python.
A lot of developers watching the yesterday’s WWDC felt their chair being knocked out from under them - and for a good reason. The newest release of iOS is no slouch, and incorporates a wealth of features that have been long provided by the third-party apps: twitter, instant messages, saving pages for reading later, todo lists.
It so happens that we run a service that’s called www.pushme.to, which partly replicates the iMessage functionality, but since I don’t depend on it financially, I can still talk about iOS5 without tears blemishing my eyes :)
I’ve been waiting for an Apple-branded integrated communication suite for a long time now, the iChat hasn’t been updated since it appeared with Snow Leopard, and FaceTime on mac is a joke. The iMessages, an internet-based instant messaging service, could be is a first step towards it. Only that it probably won’t.
Under belt blow to the operators, you say? Not quite. If Apple really wanted to break up with operators, it would have offered one communication solution for VoIP, video, and messages - all over the Internet and free. Remembering the crystalline audio in FaceTime, they obviously have the tech, and now probably the infrastructure too.
Such a communication suite, starting from 200 million iOS devices and millions of macs, could land a serious blow to all communication platforms - Skype, Google Talk among them.
The biggest caveat, however, is that Apple’s stronghold - the ability to build a closed ecosystem, putting excellent hardware and software together, plays against it when it comes to communication.
If you have an iPhone, it’s highly probable that at least one of your friends will have some unresolved teen issues or just too little money and thus own an Android device. And another one will have a BlackBerry, or, God forbid, Nokia phone. It’s very unlikely that we shall see iMessages on these platforms, and that certainly creates a niche for other players.
When iOS device will be updated to iOS5, all of us who have crossed its way with some features will have to pivot. Yet Apple can be sure that we will build up on its weaknesses, multi platform and web access being one of them.