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iMessage for Android planned internally at Apple – but rejected

The legal dispute between Epic Games and Apple brings further internal information to light: According to company-internal emails, Apple’s service boss Eddy Cue wanted to bring iMessage to Android as early as 2013 – and at full speed. You have “the best messaging app” and should urgently make it the “industry standard”, wrote Cue to other top managers. A few employees are already working on it, but it has to be an official project.

The manager apparently feared a takeover of WhatsApp by Google, which was being discussed at the time. “Do we really want to lose one of the most important mobile apps to Google?” Cue asked in the mail.

Apple’s software boss Craig Federighi criticized the lack of a strategy to make iMessage the main messenger. Why should someone switch from WhatsApp to iMessage who has hardly any “iOS friends”, said Federighi in his response to Cue. iMessage is “nice”, but you need more than a “marginally better app” to entice users to change their social network. In the absence of a clear strategy, he was concerned that the move would only “remove an obstacle for iPhone families to give their children Android devices,” said Federighi.

At a hearing by Epic attorneys (Epic vs. Apple, File 4: 20-cv-05640, United States District Court Northern District of California Oakland Division), Cue said he didn’t think the lack of iMessage on Android was a hurdle for families represent giving their kids an Android device.

In addition to Federighi, according to the court documents, she also spoke out against Apple’s former marketing chief Phil Schiller and “several other individuals” against iMessage for Android. Who ultimately made the decision remains unclear – iMessage is still only available on Apple devices to this day. The same applies to Apple’s VoIP service FaceTime, when Steve Jobs promised to make it an “open industry standard” when it was launched – and apparently surprised his own team with this announcement at the time.


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Parts of the internal Apple discussions about iMessage for Android had already become known in advance, and now we are also getting involved Read most of the top manager’s hearing – However, segments remain blackened.

The hearings that have now been published also include the questioning of Apple’s former iOS boss Scott Forstall: He explained again that there had been heated discussions internally as to whether one should originally leave native apps on the iPhone at all – or rather just web apps. Apple did not introduce an SDK for app development and the app store until a year after the iPhone went on sale. At the time, they also tried to help Adobe get Flash working on iPhones, Forstall is quoted as saying. That was successful, but the performance would have been simply “miserable and shameful” – accordingly there was never any support for Flash on iOS devices.


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