Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 10:07 am.

AT&T adjusts for new reality: People are either going to send a million SMS messages, or almost none

AT&T is going to make its new customers choose between unlimited SMS messages for $20 per month or metered SMS messages for $0.20 each, Engadget reports. In other words, it’s getting rid of any plans in between, such as $10 per month for 1,000 SMS messages. (It will have an unlimited-SMS family plan for $30 per month.)

While this may seem extreme — all or nothing — it’s really a reflection of the new reality for SMS. Unless there is a massive outcry, I expect other carriers to make similar moves soon.

Some people are still going to send a million of them per month — teens without smartphones, for instance — and an unlimited texting plan is really the only thing that will suit them. Or people are going to send very few actual SMS messages, thanks to services like Apple’s forthcoming iMessage, RIM’s BBM, Facebook’s new messaging app, WhatsApp, and others, which allow free, unlimited text messaging over the Internet, completely bypassing SMS.

When iOS 5 with iMessage comes out this fall, I plan on removing my SMS plan completely, paying the $0.20 for the errant SMS to/from a non-iOS user. (Basically everyone I care about already has an iPhone, anyway.)

This is what the future looks like, and AT&T is just moving it along faster.

Related: Facebook attacks the SMS with messaging app