iMessage only works if both people have it. It works through data (just as emails do - so that last point is moot)That’s if you both have iMessage. What if the sender has iMessage and the receiver does not? I think the carriers will start to charge the receiver for the reception of the picture message or may even if both on the same carrier still charge the sender for sending the message through the MMS system. I know it’s not that way it is now but if you think the carriers are going to allow this to happen without them making money you are kidding yourself.
If both people do not have iMessage it is sent as mms/txt, so you'll need a plan for that or you will be charged as is the case now.
If the button send button is green it is sending as txt, if the send button is blue it is sending as iMessage.