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Apple kept iMessage to itself when it could have come to Android back in 2013

Apple thought moving iMessage to Android will hurt it more than help it.

Published onApril 9, 2021

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  • iMessage could have come to Android years ago.
  • Court documents submitted by Epic and Apple before their antitrust trial reveal that Apple execs never wanted to release iMessage for Android.

New findings reveal that Apple could have launched iMessage for Android years ago but deliberately chose not to do so. Epic’s antitrust lawsuit against Apple has revealed (via 9to5Mac) that the popular messaging service was locked in intentionally by Apple even though it could have been cross-compatible with Android as early as 2013.

Court documents submitted by Epic and Apple ahead of their upcoming trial make it clear that Apple executives were against porting iMessage to Android for competitive reasons.

According to a deposition by Eddy Cue, Apple’s Senior VP of Internet Software and Services, the company “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.”

However, Craig Federighi, Apple’s Senior VP of Software Engineering and the executive in charge of iOS, said, “iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove an obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones.”

In 2016, when a former Apple employee commented that “the number one most difficult reason to leave the Apple universe app is iMessage,”  Phil Schiller, responsible for leading the App Store, commented that “moving iMessage to Android will hurt us more than help us.”

These statements reaffirm what most of us have known for a while — Apple likes to keep its ecosystem closed in order to hook users and keep them there. The practice is not illegal, and these findings wouldn’t necessarily harm Apple. They are just another way for Epic to support its point that Apple uses platform lock-in to maintain its market monopoly.

Meanwhile, iMessage is still not available on Android, and it doesn’t look like it’ll ever leave Apple’s walled garden. Android users, however, can take advantage of RCS that offers a similar experience in the Google Messages App.

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