IT’S Apple’s giant, hungry black hole for your text messages.

For many Australians the ability to send texts for free to other iPhones – or “iMessage” – is one of the great benefits of owning an Apple device.

But when people ditch their Apple phone for another brand’s device it can cause a massive problem that could leave you rather lonely.

Often, the iMessages your friends send you will never arrive on your new device, according to The New York Times .

That’s because when you send an iMessage, you’re using Apple technology, not your service provider.

Many ex-users have found the messages continue to land in their discarded iPhone until they lobby the company to do something about it.

That can be harder than it sounds, and may involve up to 30 days to fix.

Some commentators believe the iMessage dilemma is the company’s revenge on its defector customers.

As Chris Dannen from FastCompany wrote: “Apple is punishing you for ditching your iPhone by cutting you off from your friends.”