John Gruber on iMessages

http://daringfireball.net/linked/2012/04/13/zach-phillips→

I got a link from one of my favorite bloggers (from nearby Philly), who disagrees with me very much about using phone numbers as iMessage IDs:

I’m sure there are others who feel like Phillips does, but that would drive me nuts. When you send an iMessage to my phone number, you know it’s going to my phone and nowhere else. You, the sender, know that it’s going to my phone, and so you know not to badger me with half a dozen messages one after another like you might do if you thought it were going to the IM-style Messages app on my Mac.

The argument Gruber seems to be making is that iMessages, when used from a desktop to a desktop, should be treated like IM, but when used from a phone to a phone or from a desktop to a phone, should be treated like SMS (with SMS etiquette).

There are several suitable IM channels, and as far as I can tell, not one seems to greatly benefit the company supporting it (Hello AOL). If Apple were trying to create a better IM experience, I would be pretty surprised. Apple has done a good job of not going into spaces where they can’t score a clear victory on quality. If iMessages is IM, I don’t think anyone would say it’s much better than what we already have.

I might be wrong about this, but I don’t see how the introduction of iMessages was anything but a response to BBM, which is something like the ashen limb of a favored teddy bear lying amidst a smoldering trainwreck. BBM was RIM’s enhancement to SMS, not a new channel for IM.

Apple could, I think, grant Phillips his wish and allow the use of your phone number as an Apple ID. But they have to let you use your (email address) Apple ID for iMessage, because they want to allow iMessage for all iCloud users, not just iPhone owners.

Maybe Gruber is right and Apple wants everyone chatting on iMessages instead of Google and Facebook chat (which people can usually get to from their Windows PCs at work), but again, I don’t see how that’s valuable enough to Apple to warrant the added confusion.

A different discussion is whether the constraint of having to enter a message on your phone is in fact a necessary limiting factor, allowing SMS to be what it is. Maybe opening SMS up to the desktop is a terrible idea, something like extending Twitter beyond 140 characters. And suddenly, it isn’t Twitter anymore.

posted Saturday, April 14, 2012