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Apple says iMessage on Android 'seemed like a throwaway'

No, it wasn't at all about ensuring more iPhone sales...

Published onOctober 26, 2022

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Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • An Apple executive has explained why iMessage isn’t on Android.
  • The executive claimed that an Android port would’ve held back innovation.
  • He added that an Android port “seemed like a throwaway.”

Apple’s iMessage is limited to iOS devices only, but company exec Craig Federighi sent an email in 2013 suggesting that an Android version of iMessage would result in more Android sales.

Now, the Wall Street Journal has interviewed Federighi (h/t: MacRumors), asking about the lack of iMessage on Android and that 2013 email.

“I am concerned iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove an obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones,” the Apple executive noted at the time to colleague Eddie Cue.

Federighi explained the apparent context of the email thread:

The back and forth with Eddie was, if we’re going to enter a market and go down the road of building an application, we have to be in it in a way that’s going to make a difference. That we would have a lot of customers, that we would be able to deliver great experiences.

“And so if we just shipped an app that really didn’t get critical mass on other platforms, what it would’ve accomplished is it would’ve held us back in innovating in all the ways we wanted to innovate in messages for our customers, and wouldn’t have accomplished much at all in any other way,” he continued.

Apple felt it had to choose where it could invest its resources to make a difference, Federighi said, adding that an Android version of iMessage therefore “seemed like a throwaway that wasn’t going to serve the world.”

Is this the real reason?

For what it’s worth, Federighi also used that email thread at the time to question how iMessage could be compelling for Android users who don’t have many friends on iOS. He also noted that iMessage needed to be more than a “marginally better app” to get people to switch from rival messaging platforms. 

Would you download iMessage for Android?

4723 votes

Still, we can’t help but feel that Apple’s chief reason for opposing an Android port is that it would mean fewer iPhones sold, as the executive’s controversial email suggests. After all, the current green bubble/blue bubble controversy is driving increased iPhone sales among young people in the US.

It’s also worth noting that the company has shipped Android apps before, such as Apple Music and Apple TV (on Android TV). In fact, the Android version of Apple Music was a pretty bad experience at first. Either way, it seems like Apple is still dead-set on keeping iMessage exclusive to iOS and Mac devices for now. 

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