updated 10:35 pm EDT, Thu June 9, 2011
Google said to have worked on message rival
Google has at least at one point been developing an equivalent to BlackBerry Messenger and Apple's iMessage, an insider mentioned Thursday. Details of the system were few, but it's implied it would be much more than just the existing Google Talk and other IM apps. The WSJ clue made no mention of whether it was still active or a dead project.
Both the Apple and RIM messaging systems are both meant to be lures to keep users on the platform but are also end-runs around text messaging rates. While it does affect data use, the small size of text makes it cheaper than signing up for a a text messaging plan. On AT&T, that can save at least $10 per month and keeps the price down for those who only expect to chat to other BlackBerry owners on BBM or, in the fall, iPhone users on iMessage.
Google's motivations weren't explained, but it would likely want to have an additional incentive to lure away BlackBerry users. Android for now has mostly had to rely on third-party apps like Kik to provide a direct messaging alternative.
Carriers were reportedly caught unawares by iMessage and may be worried that, between this, BBM, and a possible Google solution, its once lucrative messaging business has been disappearance. Traditional messaging levels have still grown, though the creation of a non-SMS messaging system may be worrying for them in the long term.
Google didn't comment on the plans.