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A Dangerous Apple

Apple is in the headlines a lot today due to the release of the new iOS5 as well as talk about the iPhone 4S and iCloud service, but it is also in the news for a different reason. It wasn’t that long ago that music stores were cursing the Apple name because it made digital music available to everyone. While music stores are still seeing a lot of customers, the numbers are dropping each year with some major franchises resorting to closing their doors and others are revamping their stores to include a focus on TVs, movies, and even video games. But now a new type of company is starting to find that Apple and other similar smart phones dangerous.

Telecommunications companies all around the world are struggling to find footing in the wake of new apps from for smart phones that halve if not directly cut the cost of phone calls and text messages. With the number of people using smart phones increasing every year, these people are finding that they can save money by using a free or heavily discounted app to text friends and family as well as to make calls. Some people have even taken to not using their text message app on their phone- instead they are using combinations of FaceBook, Twitter, and Skype.

Telco’s say that this is only going to get worse with iOS5 and the iMessage app that allows people to send text and images using their data rather than using their cell provider. This app can be used by anyone who has iOS5, and this operating system in turn is available on the iPhone 3G and 4 (and the soon to be released 4S), the iPhone touch versions 3 and 4, and both versions of the iPad. In short, most people who have an Apple mobile device will be getting iMessage.

These text services have a further one-up on typical text messages in ways other than cost. Some apps like the iMessage will let the sender know when the message has been received and will even display an icon for when the other person is typing a response. The chat room-like feel also makes it easier to use these apps because people can see what has come before and they can continue the line of communication more easily than having to go back and reread old texts. People are also taking to using social media apps as pseudo text messaging services, and this allows them to check their status, to post photos, and to comment on other peoples messages while at the same time having a text conversation.

Telco’s have nothing to worry about yet in countries where they are charging customers for 3G internet access. These text apps use the internet, so unless both parties are in a free Wi-Fi zone they will be paying for the internet access by which they are sending the message. However, there are some countries where the 3G data costs are near-zero and many places where there is an abundance of free Wi-Fi so you can still get free chatting if you know where to look.

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