My iPhone is on the AT&T network. For a while, I had been paying $5 a month for 200 text messages a month. Then last year, AT&T eliminated the $5 plan, so I had to pay $10 a month for 1000 text messages a month, even though I didn't need them. I still had enough text messages a month that it was cheaper than a la carte pricing.
When Apple launched iMessages, my text message volume dropped a lot, and I suspect AT&T saw a corresponding drop in the number of people paying them for text messages. So they eliminated the $10 plan, and the only options left in place were a $20 a month plan for unlimited text messaging or a la carte pricing charged at the absurd price of $.20 a text message, whether inbound or outbound. AT&T justified this by saying customers preferred unlimited plans.
Since the FCC clearly won't protect consumers from this type of price gouging, we're largely on our own. Given how many of my heavy texting friends are on iPhones and iMessages, I looked at a few phone bills and decided to try paying a la carte for two months.
The results are in, and it looks like I'm saving about $15 a month by doing so. Not enough to change my life, but the emotional satisfaction of taking $15 a month out of AT&T's pockets makes it feel like $100.
What I'd love to see is my iPhone have the ability to take incoming text messages and reroute them to one of my free text messaging apps, or Twitter DM, and save me paying any fee for those random texts from non iMessage users, but of course by that point AT&T would have charged me already.
I have faith that someday we'll be free of this absurd rent-seeking toll, and AT&T as a whole, and in the meantime, I keep picturing Anne Hathaway dancing with an AT&T executive at a masquerade ball, whispering in his ear, "There's a storm coming. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you're all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could charge so much for text messaging and provide so little for the rest of us."