iMessage for Android would have stifled innovation, says Craig Federighi

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in iOS
Craig Federighi defended the decision to not develop Messages for Android, saying it would never get a mass audience, and had Apple done it, it would have hampered innovation.




Google's recent attempts to shame Apple into adopt a common messaging standard -- while not doing so itself -- is just the latest salvo in a contentious debate that has lasted a decade. As far back as 2013, Apple was debating bringing its Messages app to Android, but chose not to.

Key to that debate was a series of emails involving, among others, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi. Federighi's 2013 emails were revealed during the Epic Games v Apple court case, and showed him saying that he thought it "would simply serve to remove an obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones."

Now the Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern has interviewed Federighi and specifically asked what happened about a Messages app on Android. "I'm not aware of it shipping," he joked.

Apple's Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak (@gregjoz) join @JoannaStern at #WSJTechLive to discuss products, privacy and power at the tech giant https://t.co/fNo2JGwMB4 https://t.co/aGrTlZrUo4

-- The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ)


"My feeling," he continued, "and I think if one read the whole email [it] was clear, the back and forth with Eddy was if 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."

"[It would have to be] that we would have a lot of customers, that we would be able to deliver great experiences, but this comes at a real cost," he said. "And my fear was we weren't in a position to do that."

"And so if we just shipped an app that really didn't get critical mass on other platforms," said Federighi, "what it would have accomplished is it would have held us back in innovating and all the ways we wanted to innovate and messages on for our customers. [It] wouldn't really have accomplished much at all in any other way. "

"And so we just felt, you know, pick where you can make a difference, pick where you're going to invest," he continued, "and do it where where you'd make a difference and this seemed like a throwaway that wasn't going to serve the world, honestly."


Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    I know that many people love iMessage. And I know we do prefer using this more privacy-conscious platform than, say, WhatsApp or Telegram. 
    But iMessage isn’t really the pinnacle of innovation, with features like unsend or edit messages only being available now. 
    So… mmm… I don’t buy into the “it would have stifled innovation” argument. 
    lkruppgatorguybeowulfschmidtwilliamlondongrandact73dewme9secondkox2
  • Reply 2 of 19
    haikus said:
    I know that many people love iMessage. And I know we do prefer using this more privacy-conscious platform than, say, WhatsApp or Telegram. 
    But iMessage isn’t really the pinnacle of innovation, with features like unsend or edit messages only being available now. 
    So… mmm… I don’t buy into the “it would have stifled innovation” argument. 
    That’s not what he was talking about, and obviously those features you pointed out are not innovations. Apple can add features like full resolution photo and video sharing as well as things like Memojis and other delightful experiences without having to figure out how that’ll translate or are they even possible in an ecosystem where they have zero control over, aka Android and all its variants. We also don’t know what’s in iMessage’s future roadmap. 
    ravnorodomwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 19
    Seems like a very US-centric view of things. As a result, absolutely everybody and their sister in Europe uses WhatsApp for messaging and videocalls, even when they have an iPhone and messaging or calling another iPhone user. Allowing facebook to take over that global mindshare seems like a strategic mistake.
    caladanianwilliamlondonmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 4 of 19
    muh innovation
    williamlondongrandact73
  • Reply 5 of 19
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,746member
    haikus said:
    I know that many people love iMessage. And I know we do prefer using this more privacy-conscious platform than, say, WhatsApp or Telegram. 
    But iMessage isn’t really the pinnacle of innovation, with features like unsend or edit messages only being available now. 
    So… mmm… I don’t buy into the “it would have stifled innovation” argument. 
    That’s not what he was talking about, and obviously those features you pointed out are not innovations. Apple can add features like full resolution photo and video sharing as well as things like Memojis and other delightful experiences without having to figure out how that’ll translate or are they even possible in an ecosystem where they have zero control over, aka Android and all its variants. We also don’t know what’s in iMessage’s future roadmap. 
    Exactly. When I compare the inordinate amount of time I spend fighting bizarre issues with Android Studio (the fact that they have a "Repair IDE" option in the menus says a lot) and debugging quirks on different versions of Android, to the ease of developing for Apple platforms, I lament that I could have spent that time adding new features and making apps better instead of just porting the same features over. Time and resources are the most valuable commodity to tech companies.

    If Google wants iMessage so badly, let them spent their time working on it and maintaining it on the half-baked technology stack called Android. That's what Federighi was essentially saying in nicer words. Part of the reason why they still haven't gotten RCS right.
    dewmeravnorodomwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 19
    danoxdanox Posts: 3,108member
    Seems like a very US-centric view of things. As a result, absolutely everybody and their sister in Europe uses WhatsApp for messaging and videocalls, even when they have an iPhone and messaging or calling another iPhone user. Allowing facebook to take over that global mindshare seems like a strategic mistake.
    European market doesn’t pay the bills the USA market and China Markets do. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 7 of 19
    danoxdanox Posts: 3,108member
    auxio said:
    haikus said:
    I know that many people love iMessage. And I know we do prefer using this more privacy-conscious platform than, say, WhatsApp or Telegram. 
    But iMessage isn’t really the pinnacle of innovation, with features like unsend or edit messages only being available now. 
    So… mmm… I don’t buy into the “it would have stifled innovation” argument. 
    That’s not what he was talking about, and obviously those features you pointed out are not innovations. Apple can add features like full resolution photo and video sharing as well as things like Memojis and other delightful experiences without having to figure out how that’ll translate or are they even possible in an ecosystem where they have zero control over, aka Android and all its variants. We also don’t know what’s in iMessage’s future roadmap. 
    Exactly. When I compare the inordinate amount of time I spend fighting bizarre issues with Android Studio (the fact that they have a "Repair IDE" option in the menus says a lot) and debugging quirks on different versions of Android, to the ease of developing for Apple platforms, I lament that I could have spent that time adding new features and making apps better instead of just porting the same features over. Time and resources are the most valuable commodity to tech companies.

    If Google wants iMessage so badly, let them spent their time working on it and maintaining it on the half-baked technology stack called Android. That's what Federighi was essentially saying in nicer words. Part of the reason why they still haven't gotten RCS right.

    Apple and Google have different motives in tech as competitors and they will never ever be the same, Google having a hard time should not be a concern of Apple, if Google has a problem they just quit the Apple platform please, Apple doesn’t need them Google is the one paying Apple.
    edited October 2022 watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 19
    danoxdanox Posts: 3,108member
    haikus said:
    I know that many people love iMessage. And I know we do prefer using this more privacy-conscious platform than, say, WhatsApp or Telegram. 
    But iMessage isn’t really the pinnacle of innovation, with features like unsend or edit messages only being available now. 
    So… mmm… I don’t buy into the “it would have stifled innovation” argument. 
    That’s not what he was talking about, and obviously those features you pointed out are not innovations. Apple can add features like full resolution photo and video sharing as well as things like Memojis and other delightful experiences without having to figure out how that’ll translate or are they even possible in an ecosystem where they have zero control over, aka Android and all its variants. We also don’t know what’s in iMessage’s future roadmap. 
    Half of Apple’s Market is the USA and there shouldn’t be a concern about Europe that is above that. iMessage was created by Apple because the other message programs had no interest in Mac’s or iPhones.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 19
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    danox said:
    Seems like a very US-centric view of things. As a result, absolutely everybody and their sister in Europe uses WhatsApp for messaging and videocalls, even when they have an iPhone and messaging or calling another iPhone user. Allowing facebook to take over that global mindshare seems like a strategic mistake.
    European market doesn’t pay the bills the USA market and China Markets do. 
    Treating markets like they don’t matter is a surefire way to lose those markets.
    muthuk_vanalingamravnorodom
  • Reply 10 of 19
    Keeping iMessage off Android has only led to a fragmented messaging market. Most of my friends and family started off with iOS. But over time a few people switched to Android. Most are still on iOS. But because of Apples decision, we all had to switch to WhatsApp or Signal. As such my iMessage use has gone down drastically. Apple just lost market share to them at the end of the day. 
    edited October 2022 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 11 of 19
    haikus said:
    I know that many people love iMessage. And I know we do prefer using this more privacy-conscious platform than, say, WhatsApp or Telegram. 
    But iMessage isn’t really the pinnacle of innovation, with features like unsend or edit messages only being available now. 
    So… mmm… I don’t buy into the “it would have stifled innovation” argument. 
    iMessage isn't exactly the pinnacle of privacy. If you're not on a data connection, or you're talking to someone who uses Android, you're switching to SMS. 
  • Reply 12 of 19
    lam92103 said:
    Keeping iMessage off Android has only led to a fragmented messaging market. Most of my friends and family started off with iOS. But over time a few people switched to Android. Most are still on iOS. But because of Apples decision, we all had to switch to WhatsApp or Signal. As such my iMessage use has gone down drastically. Apple just lost market share to them at the end of the day. 
    lam92103 said:
    Keeping iMessage off Android has only led to a fragmented messaging market. Most of my friends and family started off with iOS. But over time a few people switched to Android. Most are still on iOS. But because of Apples decision, we all had to switch to WhatsApp or Signal. As such my iMessage use has gone down drastically. Apple just lost market share to them at the end of the day. 
    Implementing a version of iMessage for Android would have just further exasperated the fragmentation problem.  Basically, iMessage for Android is not the solution, nor was it ever. iMesage is a vestige of the early days of text messaging where Blackberry phones talked to one another more effectively, and even phones within specific carriers talked to one another more effectively.

    Even though Google has a stake in the game, they are essentially correct on this issue. Apple is keeping us all from being able to have a universal messaging app. Having a phone/brand specific messaging app is not "innovative" or "revolutionary". It's actually the exact opposite. It's stifling innovation by keeping a messaging app that is a relic of times gone by. But hey, the obnoxious Apple sheep love their blue bubbles. 
  • Reply 13 of 19
    auxio said:
    haikus said:
    I know that many people love iMessage. And I know we do prefer using this more privacy-conscious platform than, say, WhatsApp or Telegram. 
    But iMessage isn’t really the pinnacle of innovation, with features like unsend or edit messages only being available now. 
    So… mmm… I don’t buy into the “it would have stifled innovation” argument. 
    That’s not what he was talking about, and obviously those features you pointed out are not innovations. Apple can add features like full resolution photo and video sharing as well as things like Memojis and other delightful experiences without having to figure out how that’ll translate or are they even possible in an ecosystem where they have zero control over, aka Android and all its variants. We also don’t know what’s in iMessage’s future roadmap. 
    Exactly. When I compare the inordinate amount of time I spend fighting bizarre issues with Android Studio (the fact that they have a "Repair IDE" option in the menus says a lot) and debugging quirks on different versions of Android, to the ease of developing for Apple platforms, I lament that I could have spent that time adding new features and making apps better instead of just porting the same features over. Time and resources are the most valuable commodity to tech companies.

    If Google wants iMessage so badly, let them spent their time working on it and maintaining it on the half-baked technology stack called Android. That's what Federighi was essentially saying in nicer words. Part of the reason why they still haven't gotten RCS right.
    Who says Google wants iMessage? iMessage for Android wouldn't have have done well, anyway. It would have been just another half-baked messaging app among the many. In fact, the only messaging app I can think of that is worse than iMessage is perhaps Facebook Messenger. 

    As for Android being "half-baked", give me a break. 
  • Reply 14 of 19
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,548member
    People forget that any or all of Apple’s built-in apps could have failed miserably in the face of competition from software vendors whose whole world revolves around building just one app better than anyone including Apple. RememberQualComm’s Eudora email app? Where is it now? Leave Apple alone to do its own thing to win or lose based on their own effort. They owe Android nothing.
    edited October 2022 watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 19
    Seems like a very US-centric view of things. As a result, absolutely everybody and their sister in Europe uses WhatsApp for messaging and videocalls, even when they have an iPhone and messaging or calling another iPhone user. Allowing facebook to take over that global mindshare seems like a strategic mistake.
    Um… I do t know if you’re aware, but the iPhone is GLOBAL. 

    so… yeah. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 19
    Well, I don't think anybody would purchase an iPhone because of iMessage. Meanwhile Apple should maintain and develop it to preserve a competitive and well functioning service. Should Apple port it to Android? Absolutely not. No one cares, or only the blogosphere citizens care. People use several messaging programs at once. They even start a conversation in one app and continue it in another app. Porting iMessage to Android won't bring new Android users to the Apple ecosystem.
    edited October 2022
  • Reply 17 of 19
    There are too many alternatives out there and it would be a waste of Apple resources. I use iMessage locally in the U.S. For international, I use WhatsApp, Messenger and Telegram. I am totally fine with it. It would be huge gamble for Apple to spend money for Android version of iMessage and to compete among these alternatives. iTunes and AppleTV apps make sense because of contents. But iMessage? Meh. It's like developing Apple Pages for Android. Don't even bother.
  • Reply 18 of 19
    haikus said:
    I know that many people love iMessage. And I know we do prefer using this more privacy-conscious platform than, say, WhatsApp or Telegram. 
    But iMessage isn’t really the pinnacle of innovation, with features like unsend or edit messages only being available now. 
    So… mmm… I don’t buy into the “it would have stifled innovation” argument. 
    That’s not what he was talking about, and obviously those features you pointed out are not innovations. Apple can add features like full resolution photo and video sharing as well as things like Memojis and other delightful experiences without having to figure out how that’ll translate or are they even possible in an ecosystem where they have zero control over, aka Android and all its variants. We also don’t know what’s in iMessage’s future roadmap. 
    Well thank God we have stupid Memojis instead of actually realizing that not everyone has an iPhone and they should be making the experience better everyone.  I have friends who chose not to have iPhones (freedom on choice in competing products) and my experience is HORRIBLE.  Buy hey, I got Memojis!!!
  • Reply 19 of 19
    lam92103 said:
    Keeping iMessage off Android has only led to a fragmented messaging market. Most of my friends and family started off with iOS. But over time a few people switched to Android. Most are still on iOS. But because of Apples decision, we all had to switch to WhatsApp or Signal. As such my iMessage use has gone down drastically. Apple just lost market share to them at the end of the day. 
    Not sure what’s so “fragmented.” I have both Android and Apple iPhone user friends and I use Messages for all of them. I just get better functionality for my iPhone friends. But I still send and receive messages to/from my Android friends. Is there a problem I’m not aware of?
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