If there was a big eye-roll moment, it’s Google’s Android team bellyaching about iMessage. Apple’s advantage is obvious because it’s a form of lock-in for their ecosystem. When the iPhone debuted, it supported SMS and nothing more. Then with iOS 5 in 2011, Apple rolled out iMessage. It was a simple and secure messaging platform that was an alternative to SMS. It famously only works between Apple devices. What really set it apart though was it became the default messaging protocol when you first messaged someone.
Google has been fighting this fight for a long time. However, due to Android’s fragmentation, needing buy-in from cellular carriers, and a penchant for killing their own messaging apps, messaging on Android has been a mess for years. Instead of doing something about it, we get complaining from those in charge.
“iMessage should not benefit from bullying. Texting should bring us together, and the solution exists. Let’s fix this as one industry,” tweeted the official Android account.
Android team and Google’s head of Android, Hiroshi Lockheimer cried even harder: “Apple’s iMessage lock-in is a documented strategy. Using peer pressure and bullying as a way to sell products is disingenuous for a company that has humanity and equity as a core part of its marketing. The standards exist today to fix this.”
The silliness of this entire ordeal was that Google had not one but two killer messaging apps: GChat and Hangouts. GChat was built into Gmail and worked so well. Everyone used it and, just like iMessage, you didn’t have to do anything to use it. It just worked. Similarly, Hangouts was a kickass video and chatting platform rolled out with Google+. Google did a great job of turning it into a one-stop-shop for messaging, video, and audio calls. Then they decided it was better used as a Zoom-clone. Don’t even get me started with Allo.
But this wasn’t good enough. Google kept killing apps, releasing new ones, extolling how it was THE way to go, then killing it shortly thereafter. It’s pretty hard to convince someone to jump onto a new messaging platform only to convince someone to do the same time and again. There’s a reason WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have staying power: they’ve stayed. Google’s current carrot they’re chasing is RCS. It’s recently gained some traction to maybe become something with staying power, but based on Lockheimer’s bitching, it doesn’t seem good enough. Android messaging remains an unmitigated disaster.
The genius of iMessage is two-fold. Firstly, there was no setup. When you first started to text a person, the iPhone would look up the person. If they were an iMessage user, you’d automatically use iMessage. If they weren’t, you’d stick with SMS. This is the way iMessage has worked from the start.
The second reason is simple: Apple rolled out iMessage and left it there. They didn’t f’in kill it for greener pastures.