Apple has always seemed to make sure to keep the best aspects of its proprietary ecosystem exclusive to its users. One of the most symbolic cases is iMessage rich messaging.
For the first time, the system made it possible to exchange messages enriched with multimedia content in full quality, with forces of stickers, then “memojis”. More recently, iMessage has been enriched with many applications – kinds of add-ons that add to the exchanges.
Apple thinks the resources put into a port of iMessage on Android would have brought nothing
Meanwhile, Android smartphones have long had to resort to using alternative messaging apps like WhatsApp to achieve the same kind of rich exchanges. Then Google launched the RCS, a sort of open iMessage, and presented as the real successor to SMS.
A technology that Apple has since refused to integrate into iPhones without offering a version of iMessage on Android as an alternative. In iMessage conversations with Android smartphones, the bubbles are green to clearly indicate that the exchange is limited to SMS technology.
In groups, reactions on messages with participants on Android are transmitted as text. Google fixed this a bit by automatically transforming these reactions. But that’s pretty much where we are. And Google regularly puts the cover back publicly by urging Apple to adopt the RCS standard – which the firm still refuses to do for the moment.
An Apple official speaks for the first time on the reasons for the absence of a message on Android. The official in question, Craig Federighi, was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal. The journalist took the opportunity to ask him if really the absence of iMessage on Android was a way to boost iPhone sales.
In the email sent in 2013 to his colleague Eddie Cue, Craig Federighi indeed worries about the kind of hypothetical port of the technology: “I’m concerned that iMessage on Android will only remove the barrier in iPhone families that prevents them from choosing Android for their children”.
In his last intervention on the subject, the manager explains: “The exchange with Eddie was a way of saying, if you’re going to enter a market and do whatever it takes to build an app, you have to do it in a way that will make a difference. The more customers we have, the more we are able to deliver great experiences”.
The manager continues: “and so if we had launched an application that would not have reached critical mass on other platforms, what we would have accomplished was above all to limit ourselves in all the dimensions in which we wanted to innovate in the field of messaging for our customers, and we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish much at all if we had done otherwise”.
Understand: Apple had to choose carefully where it should focus its efforts and resources to deliver the best messaging app possible. Craig Federighi thus concludes that port iMessage to Android “looked like a mess that would make no contribution to the march of the world”. While adding that iMessage would have had to be not marginally better than the competition to break into Android smartphones.