Questions Surface About SMS Messaging Costs on iPhone 3G

Earlier this month, I estimated the monthly mobile phone service cost of an iPhone 3G at $86. I included $5.00 in this estimate for a bundle of 200 SMS messages, because I had heard that AT&T Mobility was unbundling SMS messages in the data rate plans for the iPhone 3G.

In Apple Phone Show Episode 59 published last Friday, Scott Bourne argued that AT&T has not stated categorically that SMS messages would be unbundled. This is what was published in the shown notes:

AT&T has said publicly on several occasions that they are not done configuring the iphone 3G packages. Scott has asked AT&T twice what the deal is and every time the official comment has been we’re still working on them and we have plenty of time before July 11.

Because AT&T has not completed work on the deals, he is perplexed by the number of people reporting on what the packages look like in their entirety. Many bloggers are saying, "Oh, you get no SMS messages included with the basic package." And while they might very well be right in the end, we don’t know that yet. AT&T hasn’t confirmed what the packages are going to be.

I went back through my notes, trying to remember where I had read that AT&T was unbundling SMS messages in the iPhone 3G data rate plans. It turns out that the CEO of AT&T Mobility, Ralph de la Vega, told Om Malik that SMS messages would be unbundled in an interview that took place at the time of the iPhone 3G announcement:

{Om Malik:} Has there been a change in the cost of data plans?

{Ralph de la Vega:} The data plans are different on the 3G iPhone vs. the 2G iPhone. Consumers will pay $30 a month every month, while enterprises will pay $45 a month. This is what you pay us on other PDA devices such as BlackBerry Curve. The SMS messages are not bundled anymore, and you pay for what you want. Again, the prices are based on what you buy.

From there I went and looked up the current posted prices of SMS message bundles on AT&T Mobility's website and added the 200 message bundle to my price estimate.

Lots of other writers came to the same conclusion I did. But the panelists on The Apple Phone Show were adamant that their contacts at AT&T say no final decision has been made on this issue.

So what happened between the interview that Om Malik did with Ralph de la Vega and the release of Apple Phone Show #59? Is AT&T reconsidering the SMS unbundling that de la Vega said would be taking place?