John Starr Dewar

iMessage Stops Working

01 Jan 2012

I had a weird thing happen this weekend. My iPhone stopped sending and receiving iMessages, even though they were still turned on in settings. The following sequence rectified the issue:

  1. Turn off iMessages
  2. Restart the Phone
  3. Turn iMessages back on

Just toggling iMessages didn't do the trick.

The episode made me think about how insidious the whole iMessage thing is. By creating a proprietary, zero-configuration messaging service, Apple has effectively taken advantage of the ridiculous price gouging carriers engage in with text messages to generate a tremendous amount of favorable peer pressure among consumers. Everyone is going to try force their friends to upgrade to iOS 5 or upgrade to an iOS 5 compatible device, just so they don't have to pay text messaging fees any more.

I know this to be true because I have engaged in this behavior. So have many of my iPhone-toting friends. All of this peer pressure has generated at least 3 iPhone 4S purchases and 4 or 5 iOS 5 upgrades that otherwise might have taken a lot longer to be achieved. Third-party messaging services like Ping/Touch never created this kind of social pressure just because they were difficult to get set up for the technologically-unsavvy, but Apple's support network makes it easy. For one thing, it works out of the box; there is only one slider to turn it on. For another, if it gets too frustrating to explain over the phone one can always say "take it to the Apple Store and they'll get it set up for you".

It would be great for us consumers if iMessage could plug into other messaging services like AIM, so we could chat with Android users. But if Apple had enabled that, I have a feeling it would have diluted the message a bit. "Well you could buy an iPhone so you could chat with me without setting anything up but if you'd rather not you can download such and such from such and such app store...blah blah blah..." Of course, they probably never would end up texting you for free, but they wouldn't get pushed into an Apple purchase either.