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Apple iPhone Instant Message Coming

Apple Inc has recently filed a patent which clearly indicates that the company is getting closer to adding its own instant message feature to its iPhone.

The recent filing is entitled “Portable Electronic Device for Instant Messaging”, and covers methods for sending, receiving, and viewing ongoing conversations. The proposed GUI is similar to Apple’s current interface for SMS.

iPhone IM has been missing from the cell phone to the dismay of many users. The patent filing shows Apple has “instant message” on its mind.

At the recent launch of the iPhone SDK, AOL demonstrated an AOL Instant Messenger client, but it isn’t allowed to run in the background, which normal IM applications rely on.

Support for IM is quickly becoming a must on mobile cell phones. Users want the same thing on their mobile phone as they have on their computers including IM, according to Leif-Olof Wallin, research vice president at Gartner.

“It will be a blockbuster in two, three years,” said Wallin.

However, instant messaging is also a threat to the massive amounts mobile carriers make from SMS messaging, which the iPhone currently supports.

“They can charge much more for SMS compared to IM,” said Wallin.

Pressure from its carrier partners is probably the explanation for why Apple has taken a patent filing approach to a feature many iPhone users want.