Apple knows that iMessage’s blue bubbles are a major barrier to people switching to Android, which is why the service never showed up on Google’s mobile operating system. This is evident from statements and emails from Apple employees, including some senior executives, disclosed in a court application from Epic Games as part of a legal dispute with the iPhone manufacturer.
Epic argues that Apple is deliberately trying to hold customers to its ecosystem of devices, and that iMessage is one of the key services that help it do that. It cites comments from Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddie Cue, senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi, and Apple Fellow Phil Schiller to support its argument.
“The # 1 hardest [reason] To leave the Apple universe app is iMessage … iMessage amounts to a serious lock-in, ” an unnamed former Apple employee put it in an email in 2016, asking Schiller to respond: Moving iMessage to Android will hurt us more then help us, this email illustrates why. “
“IMessage on Android would just serve to delete [an] obstacle for iPhone families to give their children Android phones, ”was Federighi’s concern, according to Epic’s filing. While workarounds for using iMessage on Android have emerged over the years, none have been particularly useful or reliable.
According to Epic’s filing, citing Eddie Cue, Apple decided not to develop iMessage for Android as early as 2013, after launching its messaging service with iOS 5 in 2011. Cue admits that Apple “could have made a version on Android. which worked with iOS, ”so that“ users of both platforms could have seamlessly exchanged messages with each other. ”Apparently, no such version was ever developed.
Along with iMessage, Epic cites a range of other Apple services that it says contribute to lock-in. In particular, these include the video chat service FaceTime, which Steve Jobs announced would be an open industry standard back at WWDC 2010. FaceTime was subsequently released on iPhones, iPads, and Macs, but it’s not officially available for non-Apple devices.