It is a never-ending war that continues between Google and Apple over the issue of Apple’s instant messaging service, iMessage, and its compatibility with Android.
Just days after unveiling an Android campaign that borrows heavily from Apple’s strategy, Google attacked its competitor for iMessage. Today, the firm is asking for help. Following a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article showing how “the pressure to be part of the group owning iMessage” guides teenage smartphone buying decisions, Google executive Hiroshi Lockheimer spoke on Twitter to castigate Apple’s color-coded chat bubbles, calling them a “documented strategy” of the firm that uses “peer pressure and intimidation to sell products”.
Google’s Android account also retweeted the story even speaking of “bullying.”
Apple’s iMessage lock-in is a documented strategy. Using peer pressure and bullying as a way to sell products is disingenuous for a company that has humanity and equity as a core part of its marketing. The standards exist today to fix this. https://t.co/MiQqMUOrgn
— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) January 8, 2022
Using unorthodox methods
The WSJ investigation brings back documents from the Epic lawsuit that describe Apple’s resistance to extending iMessage to Android. In a series of emails, Craig Federighi, Phil Schiller and other Apple executives were concerned that “iMessage on Android would simply be used to delete [un] obstacle to iPhone families who give their children Android phones ”. Many high school and college students were polled for the article, which described situations where iMessage kept Android users out of social circles. In one case, a young girl’s sister “made fun of her for texting potential lovers using Android phones,” calling the green bubbles “disgusting.”
On Twitter, Lockheimer says there is “no real technical or product reason” for iMessage’s lockdown and urges Apple “to join the rest of the mobile industry.” Google has tried many proprietary messaging platforms over the years, including Allo and Hangouts, but none have been as popular as Apple’s iMessage. For its part, Google recently updated its own Messages app to support iMessage interactions such as “like” and “laugh”. Previously, reactions resulted in boring texts but with this new system, emoji appear like on an iPhone.
Google goes all out on RCS
Google also recently adopted rich communication services (RCS) for Messages, which offers many of the benefits of iMessage without being tied to a single device. As with SMS, it is a more universal system supported by the operators.
Maxwell Weinbach posted a good video explainer on the issue https://t.co/uc7h309ArZ
— Hiroshi Lockheimer (@lockheimer) January 10, 2022
Hiroshi Lockheimer continued his criticism with a Twitter thread urging Apple to support RCS to “improve the experience for users of iOS and Android.” He also said that Google is “happy to work with Apple to make RCS interoperability a reality,” although supporting RCS would benefit Google more than Apple. That said, the tone of this Google executive was much friendlier after days of “big talk.”
Apple is not planning to change anytime soon
Public shame aside, the iMessage platform is unlikely to change anytime soon. As the Wall Street Journal investigation shows, the system is working as expected and Apple has no reason to change it. RCS might be superior to SMS, but there are a lot of overlaps with iMessage and the encryption is not as strong. Google Messages supports end-to-end encryption, but only for one-on-one conversations and if both users are using the Google Messages app with RCS enabled.
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