There was plenty to digest in Apple's iOS 5 announcement at WWDC yesterday, but one of the most exciting of the 200 new features on offer in the newly updated OS is without a doubt iMessage.
It allows iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users to message each other directly via their standard data connection, potentially cutting the need for traditional text messaging altogether – and removing one of the few unique draws RIM and BlackBerry still has in the consumer market.
By all accounts not only was the iMessage announcement a pleasant surprise for iOS users, but it was also news to the networks too – or so claims Slashgear source John Gruber of Daring Fireball – and not in a pleasant way either, considering how much cash they continue to rake in every month from good old text messages.
The fact that Apple could make such a sweeping change without letting the carriers in on its plans is a statement of just how powerful the company has become in the mobile space, but for one of its rivals it's more of a directly ominous sign.
Despite seeing its market share steadily sliding, traditional business mobile powerhouse RIM and its BlackBerry brand had found an unlikely foothold right in the heart of consumer-land with its BlackBerry Messenger service, which allows BlackBerry users around the globe to stay in touch completely free of charge.
Those same consumers can now get the same convenience from the iPhone, which should cost RIM a good few customers on the next contract upgrade cycle – customers it can't really afford to lose.