Apple's Eddy Cue wanted to bring iMessage to Android as early as 2013

Posted:
in iPhone edited April 27
Apple software Eddy Cue wanted to bring iMessage to Android as far back as 2013, but was ultimately overruled by other executives.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


The Apple senior vice president wanted to dedicate an entire team to iMessage support on Android but was ultimately shot down, according to a new deposition in the Epic Games v. Apple case seen by The Verge.

Specifically, the deposition cites an email exchange between Cue and Apple's current SVP of software engineering, Craig Federighi. The conversation took place between April 7 and April 8, 2013, and apparently came after rumors of Google looking into acquiring WhatsApp.

"We really need to bring iMessage to Android," Cue wrote in the email. "I have had a couple of people investigating this but we should go full speed and make this an official project."

Federighi, for his part, asked Cue whether he had any ideas for making iMessage an attractive alternative to existing platforms on Android for "Android users who don't have a bunch of iOS friends."

"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," Federighi wrote.

Other Apple executives also disagreed with Cue, including former SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller. When asked by the questioner whether Schiller's view "prevailed," Cue answered affirmatively but declined to place the blame solely on Schiller.

"Yeah ... I mean, obviously he didn't think we should do it, and we didn't do it, so you could say he prevailed," said Cue. "But I don't think he was instrumental in that decision."

According to the public documents, Cue was asked whether there would be cross-compatibility between the Android and iOS versions of iMessage by the questioner. In response, Cue said "that was certainly the discussion and the view that I had."

Elsewhere in the deposition, the Apple software chief said he didn't believe the lack of iMessage on Android has "created an obstacle" to families who want to give their children non-Apple devices.

The deposition was made public on Tuesday, about a week ahead of the Epic Games v. Apple trial on May 3. The line of questioning is likely to play a role in Epic's arguments. Epic Games is suing Apple on allegations that the Cupertino tech giant abuses its market power on the App Store to snuff out competition.

This isn't the first iMessage-related tidbit revealed in depositions related to the Epic case. Earlier in April, Epic included in a court submission a number of claims that Apple intentionally kept iMessage off of Android to lock users into iOS.

Former SVP of iOS Scott Forstall was also questioned in the specific deposition, primarily about the discussion surrounding third-party code on iOS.

According to Forstall, "there were executives at Apple that thought we should never release the ability for third parties to do any natively compiled applications." Notably, Forstall said that late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs "fell into" that category.

The iOS chief also added elsewhere in the deposition that there were discussions about alternate ways of distributing apps besides the App Store. After mulling the options, Forstall said that "basically all of the execs were proponents of the App Store."

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    I agree with Eddy Cur on this one. The view that Apple VPs didn’t think Apple devices could stand on their own against Android if Apple made cross-platform communication better is pretty paranoid. At least Apple seems to be moving away from this point of view with their services push taking a higher priority. If anything messages could have been a gateway in to a subscription Facebook alternative which is something everyone wants.
    edited April 27 anantksundaramshareef777irelandelijahgjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 47
    No need now. We have secure and encrypted Signal on all platforms now. Too late. Also iMessage should have never steal telecommunication identification to use Apple network. Phone number is phone number - Apple ID is proprietary Apple ID. Two different things. Now Signal uses phone numbers, but it does not steal SMS/MMS and it does not interfere with telecommunication standards.
    kkqd1337
  • Reply 3 of 47
    It’s kind of seriously stupid that Apple didn’t take his advice. 

    That’s the first time I’ve said anything nice about Cue since his disaster for Apple with iBooks. But I have to give the man his due. 
    InspiredCodeirelandelijahgmuthuk_vanalingamurahara
  • Reply 4 of 47
    Thankfully Apple did not pursue an Android version of iMessage as Apple would then have had to host the chat services and maintain the software compatibility for hundreds of Android versions for multiple cell phone providers and carriers as they came and went. Although it did not incorporate interoperability between carriers or other providers, iMessage was based on the early specifications of RCS (aka chat) that began in 2007 and were adopted by the GSM in 2008. RCS continues to be a mixed bag of success and failures around the world. Last month Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile abandoned their cooperative interoperable RCS effort when they realized that Google has stepped up to host or dominate RCS for the Android crowd. 
    edited April 27 Beatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 47
    qwerty52qwerty52 Posts: 284member
    Whether iMessage is available or not for Android it’s non of Epic’s business. Apple is free to do whatever it wants with its own apps,  its own OS and its own hardware. Apple is free to decide how to manage and achieve the best possible financial return from the investments they did to create all those products 
    But Epic is continuing to play their dirty game, because they know that their  case is weak.
    Apple should ask to see in the court,  all the e-mails and discussions between Epic’s executives,  about 
    what were the reasons and the considerations at that time, which pushed them to take the decision to bring their games to the AppStore?
    And what has changed in AppStore rules, from the moment they signed the contract till now?
    edited April 27 radarthekatBeatsBombdoejas99macxpresswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 47
    danoxdanox Posts: 501member
    Google is feeding Apple 10-12 billion per year to have a default position on iOS, Apple doesn’t need iMessage to be on Android.
    Beatsjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 47
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,602member
    This case is taking logical fallacy to illogical insanity. Epic’s apparent perspective that all apps should be cross-platform or else is not law.

    Apple are no more obligated to negate their platforms’ points of difference than BMW are to do so by building engines for other car platforms.
    radarthekatFidonet127Beatsjas99dewmejony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 47
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,506member
    Now that IOS have over billion solid users and more added every day so wouldn't hurt iPhone platform if iMessage is added to Android. In fact might motivate android users to move to iPhone.
    irelandwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 47
    DangDave said:
    Thankfully Apple did not pursue an Android version of iMessage as Apple would then have had to host the chat services and maintain the software compatibility for hundreds of Android versions for multiple cell phone providers and carriers as they came and went. Although it did not incorporate interoperability between carriers or other providers, iMessage was based on the early specifications of RCS (aka chat) that began in 2007 and were adopted by the GSM in 2008. RCS continues to be a mixed bag of success and failures around the world. Last month Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile abandoned their cooperative interoperable RCS effort when they realized that Google has stepped up to host or dominate RCS for the Android crowd. 
    Apple's iMessage app would not have had to maintain software compatibility with hundreds of Android versions.  No app in the Play Store has to do that.  Where'd you even get an idea like that?  The iMessage app would have been hosted on the Play Store.  Any handset manufacturer that uses the Play Store would have had compatibility regardless of their skin of Android.  iMessage would have been an app just like any other.  
    elijahgderekmorrmuthuk_vanalingamBeatsdewmejony0
  • Reply 10 of 47
    irelandireland Posts: 17,743member
    As someone who’s exclusively in the Apple ecosystem of products making iMessage work with Android makes my life better. Improves my UX and out of the box experience to no end. iPhones should win by being better devices, having this cross-compatibility out of the box helps achieve that. No-ports Schiller wrong again.
    edited April 27 elijahgdewmeprismaticsjony0
  • Reply 11 of 47
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,076member
    I agree with Eddy Cur on this one. The view that Apple VPs didn’t think Apple devices could stand on their own against Android if Apple made cross-platform communication better is pretty paranoid. At least Apple seems to be moving away from this point of view with their services push taking a higher priority. If anything messages could have been a gateway in to a subscription Facebook alternative which is something everyone wants.
    I agree too, if lock-in to keep people on iOS is a major consideration or inhibitor of new products, then Apple needs to re-evaluate their direction. Products should be able to stand on their own, as you say.
     
    I have said in the past (and shot down here because I wasn't licking Apple's ass) that I don't think iMessage is a reason people stick with iOS, seems Cue was of a similar mind. It of course is the whole package and iMessage is part of that, but short of its integration into iOS and easy activation, it's no better than any of the other messaging services really. It is quite reliable, but when it does break it's hard to fix. I prefer it just because it's Apple, and use it in preference, but if it was a non-Apple standalone I probably wouldn't pay it any attention.  If it had been on Android, and Apple did a good job of the app, it may well have become more popular by merit of it already being installed on iPhones and thus being convenient for at least one party. But no one is going to think "I won't give my kid an Android phone because iMessage".

    edited April 27 irelandCheeseFreezeCloudTalkin
  • Reply 12 of 47
    irelandireland Posts: 17,743member
    elijahg said:
    I have said in the past (and shot down here because I wasn't licking Apple's ass) that I don't think iMessage is a reason people stick with iOS, seems Cue was of a similar mind. It of course is the whole package and iMessage is part of that, but short of its integration into iOS and easy activation, it's no better than any of the other messaging services really. No one is going to think "I won't give my kid an Android phone because iMessage". I prefer it just because it's Apple, and use it in preference, but if it was a non-Apple standalone I probably wouldn't pay it any attention. If it had been on Android, and Apple did a good job of the app, it may well have become more popular by merit of it already being installed on iPhones and thus being convenient for at least one party.
    With twice as many Android phone users in the world than iPhone users having iMessage be cross-platform would be a selling point for iPhone and iMessage and iPhone as a platform. It suddenly seems like a more open door to walk through for an Android user IMO, but most crucially of all it improves the experience of owning an iPhone, iPad, Watch and Mac.
    elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 47
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,336moderator
    I don’t understand.  People with Android phones message me all the time and I receive those messages in my iMessage client.  And I message them back from within my iMessage client and they receive those messages. 

    So the complaint cannot be that Apple is blocking out other platforms from interacting with iPhone users using iMessage.  You can give your kids Androids and message with them all you want from iMessage on your iPhone.  

    So the complaint must be that Apple has not opened up to Android the ability to message without SMS charges applying.  These folks are complaining that Apple isn’t paying to host Android users’ messaging for free; not granting them access to the free worldwide messaging that is available between any two iMessage users.  Since when is any company required, after spending huge sums on infrastructure, to allow those who are not it’s customers to ride free in that infrastructure?  If AT&T wants to give free texts for life to customers for buying some specific phone (could be a Samsung phone) does it then need to provide free texting for life to its users who bought other phones from them?  I don’t think so.  Or maybe I’m wrong?  
    edited April 28 BeatsJosephAUjas99thtjdgazqwerty52jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 47
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,076member
    ireland said:
    elijahg said:
    I have said in the past (and shot down here because I wasn't licking Apple's ass) that I don't think iMessage is a reason people stick with iOS, seems Cue was of a similar mind. It of course is the whole package and iMessage is part of that, but short of its integration into iOS and easy activation, it's no better than any of the other messaging services really. No one is going to think "I won't give my kid an Android phone because iMessage". I prefer it just because it's Apple, and use it in preference, but if it was a non-Apple standalone I probably wouldn't pay it any attention. If it had been on Android, and Apple did a good job of the app, it may well have become more popular by merit of it already being installed on iPhones and thus being convenient for at least one party.
    With twice as many Android phone users in the world than iPhone users having iMessage be cross-platform would be a selling point for iPhone and iMessage and iPhone as a platform. It suddenly seems like a more open door to walk through for an Android user IMO, but most crucially of all it improves the experience of owning an iPhone, iPad, Watch and Mac.
    It would be a selling point and an improvement for Apple users you're absolutely right. If it was reliable and well written it would give people reason to think about Apple each time they used iMessage, and perhaps the "halo effect" of the iPod era would return. iTunes was on Windows to sell more iPods, so why not iMessage on Android to sell more iPhones? 
    ireland
  • Reply 15 of 47
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,076member
    I don’t understand.  People with Android phones message me all the time and I receive those messages in my iMessage client.  And I message them back from within my iMessage client and they receive those messages. 

    So the complaint cannot be that Apple is blocking out other platforms from interacting with iPhone users using iMessage.  You can give your kids Androids and message with them all you want from iMessage on your iPhone.  

    So the complaint must be that Apple has not opened up to Android the ability to message without SMS charges applying.  These folks are complaining that Apple isn’t paying to host Android users’ messaging for free; not granting them access to the free worldwide messaging that is available between any two iMessage users.  Since when is any company required, after spending huge sums on infrastructure, to allow those who are not it’s customers to ride free in that infrastructure?  If AT&T wants to give free texts for life to customers for buying some specific phone (could be a Samsung phone) does it then need to provide free texting for life to its users who bought other phones from them?  I don’t think so.  Or maybe I’ll wrong?  
    This kind of proves my point that iMessage isn't making iOS more "sticky", because you don't even notice you're using it. But that's kind of the point: it's supposed to be transparent. You don't actually have an iMessage client, you have a messaging client that supports the iMessage protocol. Those messages you send and receive are plain old SMS messages; you miss the read receipts, delivery receipts, free high-res picture and video sending, text effects, rich group chats etc.

    I think Epic are trying to position the conversation around them not allowing iMessage on Android due to the resultant "iPhone families giving their kids Android phones" as some kind of proof of anticompetitive behaviour. Which I can't see how that this corroborates that whatsoever. Not writing software for a different store is not equivalent to disallowing particular software on your own store. 
    radarthekat
  • Reply 16 of 47
    Every time Android user text me, I can't add new user into the group. If all users are using iMessage, I can easily add new user into the group. I also hate it when android user cripples a function in iMessage such as image rating: instead of seeing thumb-up icon next to an image, all I see is Johny likes "an image" text and I have no idea which one of the 10 images he likes. Relatives who have Android renders iMessage into a basic text messenger.
    irelandwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 47
    So what? To enable this, Apple was talking about having a team of people to work on this. That is a serious amount of money and time away from other projects. Add in additional server usage. This isn’t free for Apple to do all this and has to be paid from somewhere like hardware or service sales. People complain about how expensive Apple stuff is and yet expect Apple to do all these things for free. Labor, especially highly trained labor is expensive plus you have to fund their retirement costs. 
    radarthekatjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 47
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,689member
    I think that Epic simply wanted to prove that the concept of user lock in was actively considered and implemented at Apple.

    The communications around the iMessage issue do seem to show that Apple saw it as a way to prevent users moving to Android devices and acted on it to that end.

    Epic may have won this point. 
    muthuk_vanalingamirelandelijahgprismatics
  • Reply 19 of 47
    Still, so what? I’m sure if went through enough of Apple’s emails, you would see that part of the reason for everything in the Apple ecosystem working so well together is to lock users in and convenience. Epic would do the same thing. 
    jony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 47
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,101member
    So Apple is obligated to give their software away now?
    Someone mentioned car engines. Great analogy. Apple isn’t obligated to support iKnockoffs any more than McDonalds is obligated to offer their hamburgers(for free)  at Burger King. These arguments have no logic.

    And my goodness these are the absolute worse replies in AI history.

    I don’t know where to begin.

    I agree with Eddy Cur on this one. The view that Apple VPs didn’t think Apple devices could stand on their own against Android if Apple made cross-platform communication better is pretty paranoid. At least Apple seems to be moving away from this point of view with their services push taking a higher priority. If anything messages could have been a gateway in to a subscription Facebook alternative which is something everyone wants.


    Android is a knockoff Apple platform with knockoff hardware to compliment it. Exclusive software and features like privacy are the only way Apple can differentiate now.

    I always thought Apple could sell a subscription for knockoff iPhones/knockoff iPads at $.99/month for both FaceTime and iMessage. This would pay development, patent trolls, lawsuits(androids crappy security) etc.

    DangDave said:
    Thankfully Apple did not pursue an Android version of iMessage as Apple would then have had to host the chat services and maintain the software compatibility for hundreds of Android versions for multiple cell phone providers and carriers as they came and went. Although it did not incorporate interoperability between carriers or other providers, iMessage was based on the early specifications of RCS (aka chat) that began in 2007 and were adopted by the GSM in 2008. RCS continues to be a mixed bag of success and failures around the world. Last month Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile abandoned their cooperative interoperable RCS effort when they realized that Google has stepped up to host or dominate RCS for the Android crowd. 
    Apple's iMessage app would not have had to maintain software compatibility with hundreds of Android versions.  No app in the Play Store has to do that.  Where'd you even get an idea like that?  The iMessage app would have been hosted on the Play Store.  Any handset manufacturer that uses the Play Store would have had compatibility regardless of their skin of Android.  iMessage would have been an app just like any other.  

    COMPLETE BULL**IT.

    One of the biggest complaints about android is having to develop for thousands of knockoff iPhones.

    Can someone post the Vine where a developer shows off knockoff iPads/knockoff iPhones all reacting differently to a compass on a flat table?? That was FRUSTRATING!!


    I’m gonna stop here because most of the replies don’t make sense. Like the theory that Apple giving away their apps for free would
    magically make people buy iPhones. No, iTunes on Windows doesn’t count because it didn’t run on knockoff iPods from Microsoft. Even when Zune came out years later it was somewhat original and not a knockoff. Copying? Yes but not a ripoff like android is.
    edited April 28 radarthekatwilliamlondonqwerty52jony0watto_cobra
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