Eddy Cue Wanted to Bring iMessage to Android in 2013

With all the recent hubbub about iMessage’s exclusivity, it’s worth revisiting what we know about Apple’s internal debate over whether to make iMessage cross-platform back when they might have had a chance to make it relevant on Android. Emails from April 2013, when rumors were circulating that Google might buy WhatsApp (they probably should have) came out during discovery last year in the Epic v. Apple lawsuit:

Eddy Cue:

We really need to bring iMessage to Android. I have had a couple of people investigating this but we should go full speed and make this an official project.... Do we want to lose one of the most important apps in a mobile environment to Google? They have search, mail, free video, and growing quickly in browsers. We have the best messaging app and we should make it the industry standard. I don’t know what ways we can monetize it but it doesn’t cost us a lot to run.

Craig Federighi:

Do you have any thoughts on how we would make switching to iMessage (from WhatsApp) compelling to masses of Android users who don’t have a bunch of iOS friends? iMessage is a nice app/service, but to get users to switch social networks we’d need more than a marginally better app. (This is why Google is willing to pay $1 billion — for the network, not for the app.)... In the absence of a strategy to become the primary messaging service for [the] bulk of cell phone users, I am concerned [that] iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove an obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones.

I think Federighi is right that it might have been a hard sell to Android users in 2013, but I wish Cue had gotten his way and Apple had at least tried.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022