Will iMessage really affect AT&T’s SMS cash cow?

by Justin Horn on Jun 11th, 2011 @ 3:13 pm

A couple days ago I was looking through my AT&T bills to see how many text I send a month. I wanted to see if I could ditch the $30 unlimited shared text plan and go to the $5 for 200 plan after iMessages is released to the public. At the time I didn’t even look for the $5 plan, since I wasn’t going to switch off unlimited just yet, but then I saw the following tweet from Dan Frakes:

AT&T evidently discontinued the $5-for-200-messages plan—cheapest is now $10 for 1000. <headshake> iMessage can’t come soon enough.

Just checked it out, and sure enough the $5 plan is gone. At first I thought it was a response to the iMessage announcement, but then thinking cleary I knew AT&T couldn’t react that fast…even though it is in line with their normal dick moves. I did a little more research and it turns out the $5 for 200 and $15 for 1500 plans were killed in mid January of this year.

Further examination of my texting reveals I send about 2,000 a month, most (~70%) of which are to my girlfriend. The others are a mix of Twitter text (which I have now turned off), iOS users, and others.  Taking out all the people that will be on iMessages leaves me with about 150 – 200 text a month. Right now I’m paying $30 for shared text between my and Chiyin’s iPhone, so $15 per phone for unlimited messaging. Now let’s look at my text plan options.

Pay per text

This is really expensive, at 20 cents per text. So if I send 175 text a month on average it will cost $35 / month.

$5 – 200 Text Plan (no longer exist)

This plan would be perfect, $5 a month vs $15, too bad it’s been killed. If I was on a normal $20 unlimited plan, this would be an even bigger savings.

$10 – 1000 Text Plan (UPDATE: This plan no longer exist now, it’s all or none deal now. Shame on you AT&T, shame!!!)

Looks like this will be my only option. I won’t send anywhere near 1000 text a month, but price wise it’s the same to buy 1000 messages in a package or send 50 without.

So if both Chiyin and I switch to this plan, we’ll be saving $10 a month. Saving anything is nice, but I still feel like AT&T is winning. Text message is the biggest rip off in the wireless industry! Even though they are getting $10 less than before out of their cash cow, that $20 they are still getting is like printing money.  I can send 500 hundred emails without putting a dent in my 2GB data plan, but send 500 text and it will cost you at least $10. I know I’m picking on AT&T in this post, but it really applies to all wireless carriers.

With push notification and iMessage, traditional texting’s days are numbered, but until there is a mainstream ubiquitous system in place that works across iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone, traditional texting won’t disappear. I doubt iMessage will go open source, but there are other apps out there that are already filling this role, it’s just a matter of getting all your friends to use them. I’m now using WhatsApp [Website / iTunes], which works with iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Nokia. It’s only a buck and works great!

Follow me on Twitter @justin_horn

View 6 Comments
Apple vs ?, at&t, iOS 5, iPhone


  1. Elliot
    June 11th, 2011 8:15 pm

    Why not simply use google voice for texting? It’s free, the app is pretty good, and it can forward them to email if you prefer to use Apple’s built in app.

  2. 2.
  3. Justin Horn
    June 13th, 2011 3:19 pm

    Yeah, the downside to that is Google voice means people have to learn a new phone number for me. What’s app works off my normal cell number, so anyone that has WhatsApp can easily contact me.

    With iMessage it’s even nicer, because it will “listen” on your cell number as well as an email.

  4. 3.
  5. [...] AT&T’s biggest dick move is still not offering text plans besides 20 cents per text and unlimited, basically forcing me to keep unlimited text messaging even [...]

  6. 4.
  7. David
    January 29th, 2012 9:57 pm

    Used to have the $5/200 plan (I never ever went over), but when I got the iPhone 4, the Apple store didn’t have the option to keep my $5 plan, so I was force to go to the $10/1000.

    My wife recently went to the 4, but the $10/1000 had since been cancelled leaving only the unlimited plan. Luckily she somehow had the option to keep her old $15/1500 plan. Basically I got screwed out of my plan and ATT won’t give it back. Now we’re gonna turn texting off all together as most people can just imessage or send an email. The fact that they won’t give me back my $5/month means they’re actually losing $25/month.

  8. 5.
  9. AT&T and FaceTime | When Will Apple?
    August 22nd, 2012 10:32 am

    [...] an abused spouse with AT&T.  The last thing that got me before this FaceTime issue was them dumping all the text plans in anticipation of iMessage. I know they are a business and need to make money, but the things [...]

  10. 6.
  11. [...] Here’s a few highlights: AT&T and FaceTime AT&T changes data plans again: more GB, more money Will iMessage really affect AT&T’s SMS cash cow? [...]

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.