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It's no secret that Apple sees iMessage as a big enough selling point to keep the service exclusive to Apple devices, however new court filings submitted by Epic Games in its ongoing lawsuit with the company reveal just how Apple executives have rationalized their decision not to develop a version of iMessage for Android.

iMessage-Android-featured.jpg

Apple clearly recognizes the power that iMessage has to keep users loyal to its platforms, particularly in the U.S., and Epic is using emails as well as extracts from depositions with Apple executives Eddie Cue, Craig Federighi, and Phil Schiller to bolster its narrative that Apple seeks to lock customers into its ecosystem.

For example, the document cites an 2016 email in which an unnamed former Apple employee complained that iMessage "amounts to serious lock-in," which prompted Schiller to respond: "Moving iMessage to Android will hurt us more than help us, this email illustrates why."
a. As early as 2013, Apple decided not to develop a version of iMessage for the Android OS. (Cue Dep. 92:22-93:1.)

b. Mr. Cue testified that Apple "could have made a version on Android that worked with iOS" such that there would "have been cross-compatibility with the iOS platform so that users of both platforms would have been able to exchange messages with one another seamlessly". (Cue Dep. 92:5-9; 92:11-16.)

c. However, Craig Federighi, Apple's Senior Vice President of Software Engineering and the executive in charge of iOS, feared that "iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove [an] obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones". (PX407, at '122.)

d. Phil Schiller, an Apple executive in charge of the App Store, agreed that Apple should not offer iMessage on Android devices. (Cue Dep. 92:18-93:1.)

e. In 2016, when a former Apple employee commented that "the #1 most difficult [reason] to leave the Apple universe app is iMessage . . . iMessage amounts to serious lock-in" to the Apple ecosystem, Mr. Schiller commented that "moving iMessage to Android will hurt us more than help us, this email illustrates why". (PX416, at '610; Cue Dep. 114:14-115:2.)
As Cue's comments show, Apple was capable of developing an Android version of iMessage as early as 2013, but chose not to, since it would remove one obstacle that prevents families from giving their children Android phones.

In 2016, rumors began swirling around the possibility Apple might launch a version of iMessage for Android smartphones due to the company's increased focus on services, however senior Apple executives shot down those rumors by admitting that having a superior messaging platform that only worked on Apple devices would help sales of those devices, which has been the company's classic (and successful) rationale for years.

Apple does distribute some apps on the Google Play store for Android, such as Apple Music, Move to iOS (for users who are transitioning from an Android smartphone to an iPhone), and Beats, an app used to pair with Beats products with Android devices.

Article Link: Apple's Rationale for Not Bringing iMessage to Android Revealed in Legal Documents
 
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ariusbb

macrumors member
Sep 17, 2013
32
28
If Apple really cared about privacy it would had given us iMessage for Android.
Then we wouldn't need to install Whatsapp or other junk to talk to others with Android phones.
Everyone would just use iMessage on iPhone and Android and would instantly kill all other messaging services.
Plus Android does support SMS+Messaging app integration (look at Signal) so the experience would had been similar.
They could offer an ad-based version (ads only by Apple) or a bit cut down version as an alternative.
 

contacos

macrumors 68000
Nov 11, 2020
1,740
6,686
Mexico City living in Berlin
Facebook Messenger, Viber, WeChat, WhatsApp all would like a chat.

the EU has been planning to force any messenger service to be interchangeable for years. I wonder what happened to that. They basically wanted a protocol that works for anyone and let users text people on Viber while using let’s say FB Messenger
 

jdsingle

macrumors regular
Oct 28, 2011
211
121
If Apple really cared about privacy it would had given us iMessage for Android.
Then we wouldn't need to install Whatsapp or other junk to talk to others with Android phones.
Everyone would just use iMessage on iPhone and Android and would instantly kill all other messaging services.
Plus Android does support SMS+Messaging app integration (look at Signal) so the experience would had been similar.
They could offer an ad-based version (ads only by Apple) or a bit cut down version as an alternative.
This literally makes no sense. Apple cares about privacy. They’ve shown it with their product development. But they’re a business. If someone chooses to give Google all their data, it’s not Apple’s responsibility to stop that. This is akin to the US thinking democracy should apply everywhere and therefore engaging in war to force that on communists.
 

Phil A.

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Apr 2, 2006
5,723
2,890
Shropshire, UK
There is no way Apple was ever going to put iMessage on Android or Windows: It could only hurt them to do so as they get no revenue from it, unlike Apple TV+ and Apple Music.

One of the purposes of iMessage is to create a distinguishing feature between messaging on Apple devices and messaging on other devices in order to drive sales of Apple stuff. I don't see why this is either a surprise or a problem.

What are Epic going to be complaining about next? Microsoft for having Xbox exclusive titles? Sony for having Playstation exclusive titles and Nintendo for having Switch exclusive titles?
 

edubfromktown

macrumors 6502
Sep 14, 2010
332
228
East Coast, USA
One of the reasons my iPhone adventure (that started with the 3) ended last August.

The Google Pixel 4a has been awesome. After a few months of ramp up time, Google Messages became a solid platform for all of my devices (including macOS-based systems which are the only Apple products that I continue using... my iPads are gathering dust other than one that my wife uses).
 

mrochester

macrumors 68040
Feb 8, 2009
3,042
1,082
If Apple really cared about privacy it would had given us iMessage for Android.
Then we wouldn't need to install Whatsapp or other junk to talk to others with Android phones.
Everyone would just use iMessage on iPhone and Android and would instantly kill all other messaging services.
Plus Android does support SMS+Messaging app integration (look at Signal) so the experience would had been similar.
They could offer an ad-based version (ads only by Apple) or a bit cut down version as an alternative.
Apple cares about privacy on its products and not on the products of other companies.
 

arvinsim

macrumors 6502a
May 17, 2018
766
1,083
the EU has been planning to force any messenger service to be interchangeable for years. I wonder what happened to that. They basically wanted a protocol that works for anyone and let users text people on Viber while using let’s say FB Messenger
I think there was RCS....

But the problem is really not technical. It's political.
 

Darth Tulhu

macrumors 68000
Apr 10, 2019
1,783
2,917
You have no idea how many times my kids complained that they were bullied for them being the green bubble on their "friends'" iMessages.

Apple's lockdown of this app was brilliant from a business perspective.

Their ecosystem is the ONE THING that keeps me with them, as I find Android FAR more flexible and intuitive to use than iOS.
 

Koni17

macrumors member
Nov 2, 2016
52
178
I don't think Epic has any chance in this lawsuit, however if this would be something that would push Apple to make iMessage android compatible, that would be great. Having more reasons to get my friends to switch from Whatsapp/hangouts/Facebook messanger is fantastic.

I actually think it would otherwise also be a great move for Apple. Get people introduced to a part of the Apple ecosystem through iMessage, and they might also be interested in finding out more about the perks of switching to an Apple device, such as having better OS integration with iMessage (automatically fill out multi-factor authentication SMSes, etc.), general security, having your messages show up seamlessly on all devices such as your Macbook/iPad/Watch, etc.
 

mrochester

macrumors 68040
Feb 8, 2009
3,042
1,082
I don't think Epic has any chance in this lawsuit, however if this would be something that would push Apple to make iMessage android compatible, that would be great. Having more reasons to get my friends to switch from Whatsapp/hangouts/Facebook messanger is fantastic.

I actually think it would otherwise also be a great move for Apple. Get people introduced to a part of the Apple ecosystem through iMessage, and they might also be interested in finding out more about the perks of switching to an Apple device, such as having better OS integration with iMessage (automatically fill out multi-factor authentication SMSes, etc.), general security, having your messages show up seamlessly on all devices such as your Macbook/iPad/Watch, etc.
It would also have the opposite effect, people would stop buying iPhones and start buying android devices instead. Personally I wouldn't consider iMessage a strong enough reason to get an iPhone so I doubt it would have the impact you describe.
 

h3ysw5nkan

macrumors 68020
Aug 17, 2016
2,129
2,096
If Apple really cared about privacy it would had given us iMessage for Android.
Then we wouldn't need to install Whatsapp or other junk to talk to others with Android phones.
Everyone would just use iMessage on iPhone and Android and would instantly kill all other messaging services.
Plus Android does support SMS+Messaging app integration (look at Signal) so the experience would had been similar.
They could offer an ad-based version (ads only by Apple) or a bit cut down version as an alternative.
Apple really cares about privacy for its customers. Explain to be why Android users are Apple's customers and why Apple should enrich their main competitor.

I think the only way Apple can offer such a service is if it is a part of a subscription such as Apple One or Apple Music subscription.
 

coredev

macrumors 6502
Sep 26, 2012
318
707
I think it was pretty clear to almost everyone that it is technically possible for Apple to bring iMessage to other systems, including Android. It's more a question of why would they do it. In the case of Apple Music, sure, that generates income for Apple, but a free messaging app, again, why would they bring out an Android version?
 

h3ysw5nkan

macrumors 68020
Aug 17, 2016
2,129
2,096
the EU has been planning to force any messenger service to be interchangeable for years. I wonder what happened to that. They basically wanted a protocol that works for anyone and let users text people on Viber while using let’s say FB Messenger
Not possible, if this is the case, then it would be like IRC chat or email. Basically, your end point is just a skin, the drivers and internals are all designed by the same team.
 
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