back to article Apple opens SMS door for third parties

A tiny feature in Apple's new iPhone OS could allow third parties to make money from iPhone users, without handing over 30 per cent to Cupertino. Last week Apple announced version 4 of the iPhone OS, adding a lot of stuff which makes the iPhone harder to insult, but also adding the ability to send SMS messages from within an …


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  1. Ian Stephenson


    I have an old Nokia mobile that I use as a phone (and damn good at it it is too).

    I have a Canon EOS 400 that I use as a camera (and damn good at it it is too).

    I have an ipod touch (replacement for the old iPaq) for entertainment (music/vids/ebooks/games) and occaisional note taking - funnily enough it is damn good at this purpose.

    I dont want an all singing all dancing item that's not as good as separates. Compare a midi system with high end separates.

    I wonder how the sms enabled apps will work on the touch which does not have a cell connection?

    Somehow I dont see this as a threat to my wallet.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      i hate "meh" cant you think of anything witty !!!

      have a old nokia phone that works perfectly fine as a phone... I also have a most excellent Nikon DSLR camera to take photos on, I also have very expensive Naim audio hi fi separates with a nice set of warfdale diamond pro II speakers....

      Except for the camera, most of my electronic gadgets are packed away in the basement...

      i replaced my creative mp3 player, compact digital camera, electonic organiser, diary with my shiny new smartphone !!!

      why? because i needed one of those stupid hunting style waistcoats to pack everything in. I did even consider a "manbag" for a whole 30 seconds and thought, no... no way. its not happening...

      My camera phone is good enough for quick snaps of nonsense or a few seconds of video...If i want high quality pics, I get my nikon out. (i spit on your canon!!!)

      Most of my music listening is done while working at my pc now.... handled quite well by a old set of creative 2.1 speakers... I no longer peruse the absolute perfection i used to require when i used to spend my hard earned cash on Naim power supplies, pre-amps power amps never mind £10 per metre cables for speakers... sat with speakers on needle stands at ear hight and half the distance apart as i was as far back..... no, i don’t need that any more !!! if i am away from home and on a train, my phone performs perfectly well in playback of music... maybe not as good as some dedicated mp3 players but hey, that’s one less device in my pocket and one less charger in my bag...

      same as my phone is not as convenient as my desktop pc for email, but it works....

      My point is yeah, separate items may be better than a all in one device, but its a trade off for connivance...

      i go to KFC for fried chicken, i don’t want to hatch a egg, feed the chick on specially selected chicken feed. grow it to a suitable size, chop its head off, pluck it, clean it. select some suitable herbs and spices to coat the fillet in, make some bread rolls, grow a lettuce, make some mayo form the eggs the chicken laid, cook it, serve it...

      mines the one with not much in the pockets

  2. Andy Nugent
    Thumb Down

    Operator billing charges

    Don't most networks charge more than 30% as their cut of premium rate SMSs? Some of them over 50% (I think Virgin is the highest in the UK). So developers aren't going to see any more money that they do through the app store.

    "While the network operators couldn't (and sometimes still can't) see beyond voice revenue, faster-moving entrepreneurs realised they could quickly rent a premium-rate number and start selling bleeps and blips for real money, and even now the UK industry is dominated by third parties while the network operators spend their time searching for "the next ring tone"."

    Except the network is taking a huge cut of all the revenues of those 3rd parties, without really having to do much.

  3. Jay Jaffa

    And following this story

    the loophole it will be closed.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    30% ?

    Have you seen the generally available return on premium rate texts? It makes the 30% that Apple take look very generous.

    e.g. a text costing the user £5 will actually result in revenue of between £2 and £3 depending on mobile operator. OK, if you're talking X-Factor volumes you can no doubt get better rates, but for the majority of the app providers I can't see it being that lucrative.

    The only real advantage is the ability to charge to the phone bill instead of your iTunes account.

  5. SlabMan

    A host of Cupertino-bypassing opportunities

    Shhhh - don't tell Apple but there's another Cupertino-bypassing opportunity on the iPhone. It's called the Internet. Or could you just be setting up a straw-man?

  6. Robert Synnott


    So, instead of giving 30% to Apple, one can just give about 60 or 70% to a dodgy premium text operator who will then take half an hour to notify the app that the purchase has gone through? Sounds like an excellent idea.

  7. Hamble

    Rogue apps that can send SMS behind the scenes? Oh fantastic.

    I hope we can block third party apps sending out anything.

  8. the hawk

    Pretty sure that...

    ...alternate payment methods for content are already banned under the dev agreement. Note the lack of apps asking for PayPal payments to unlock features, for instance. So the X Factor model might be allowed, but direct payment for content is massively unlikely.

  9. TonyHoyle
    Thumb Up

    Easy money

    Create fart app

    Wait until it hits 100,000 downloads

    Trigger premium rate SMS at £5 a pop


  10. LinkOfHyrule

    Will there be...

    Will there be a 'Richard and Judy' app that sends texts without your permission?

  11. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    premium texts and blocking them.

    "Blocking applications that seek to use such an alternative in-app billing system will open Apple to the accusation that it's exploiting its monopoly; an accusation the company will have a hard time shaking off."

    Except Apple is not dominant in any market, so they don't have a monopoly. I don't like Apple's (and Steve Jobs') treatment of the iPhone, but, well, I just haven't bought one; people've known they are locked down all to hell from the start so I really can't feel too bad for owners. Plus, Apple fanbois will believe any excuse -- Steve's already came up with "convincing" (to fanbois) excuses on how Apple should maintain complete control over phones people own.

    The undisclosed & rogue premium SMS charges are of course a big concern with this.

    Anyway, premium texts are not as popular in the US as in Europe, but are not unheard of by any means; there's ads here for one service in particular that'll look stuff up for you for a fee (claiming/implying since a human at the other end looks at your question, it's quicker than just using google or whatever and pouring through results.) I think American Idol charges premium rates for voting.. and there was that Haiti donation, where you'd text and get $10 charged as a donation.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "pouring through results"

      Say what now? Thanks for the mental image.

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