Something odd happened to me today. I ran into a complete stranger on the Internet.
I signed into chat, and almost immediately had the conversation below with someone I didn't know, going by the handle "toweringcoho". I was at a largish gathering and had bonjour turned on as usual, so assumed it was someone in the room—even though I didn't bother to look to see what chat connection toweringcoho was using.
A quick Google search suggested that "toweringcoho" is the name of one of a series of IM bots that randomly connect to otherwise unconnected chat users.
And that's how I met Sunil Khiatani from Hong Kong. It took a while for both of us to figure out that we were NOT talking to robots, and a bit longer to introduce ourselves. In the end, we had a worthy conversation, got to know each other a bit, and went on our ways.
I'm not sure if these IM bots are supposed to be malicious, but I liked what happened. It was like going on a kind of unintentional dérive in text only.
Since the icon is right there on your iPhone home and you signed up for all those extra or unlimited SMS messages, maybe you didn't consider using IM.
Or maybe you did, and I'm just slower than you ;) Well, I had mine for 20 minutes and immediately decided that free data is better than paid text.
Maybe the easiest way to IM on your iPhone is to point Safari to your meebo account (a web-based chat aggregator).