It has taken a long time, but text messaging has finally become popular in the United States. Unfortunately, the mobile carriers still want to charge ridiculously high prices for text messaging plans, and with more people now using smartphones, Internet-based messaging apps are becoming popular. Messaging apps like WhatsApp Messenger and Apple’s iMessage provide text messaging like services but use the Internet and therefore eliminate the cost of text messaging plans.
In a blog post WhatsApp announced that they had sent over one billion messages in a single day, which is a significant number for a messaging service. The problem with messaging apps is that they require the sender and receiver to run the same messaging app and some might not be available for all smartphones. WhatsApp Messenger is one of the few messaging apps that is available on all of the major smartphone platforms.
Another challenge is getting your friends to use the same messaging app. What is needed is a standard to enable different messaging apps to send messages with each other or a messaging app to text messaging gateway so that you can send and receive messages with people who are using the same messaging app or well as with those who are not using the app.
Google Voice does have integration with text messaging services, which is why I prefer to use it over an app like WhatsApp, but Google Voice does not support many of WhatsApp features. For example, you can not send pictures with Google Voice. Personally, while I would love to move towards and app like WhatsApp, I don’t know how to convince my friends to use it. It will be interesting to see how much traction Apple’s iMessage gets.