Citing growth rates of the respective services, telecom consulting firm Ovum is predicting that mobile instant messaging will replace SMS as the de facto text messaging solution some time in the next five years. This has operators scrambling, and analysts pontificating, on how the outrageous profits made from SMS will be replaced. One of the compelling features of SMS for operators is a lack of status -- there's no way to know whether a user is able to immediately receive your text, but your carrier will be happy to take your coin regardless. From the user's perspective, SMS is an inherent, universal feature of every mobile phone sold today, which gives us a level of integration that mobile IM won't likely see any time soon. With IM, on the other hand, user status is a common feature, and you might be less likely to send a message to someone who can't receive it. Carriers are slowly making moves to embrace IM, but it's unclear how, or even if, they'll be able to fully recoup lost SMS income in the long run when it's being overrun by a universal, virtually free, data-based system.