The legal dispute between Epic Games and Apple brings more internals to light: Apple’s head of services Eddy Cue wanted to bring iMessage to Android as early as 2013, according to internal company emails – and he did so at full speed. They had "the best messaging app" and should be urgently "Industry standard" make, Cue wrote to other top managers. A few employees are already working on it, but it has to become an official project.
The manager apparently feared a takeover of WhatsApp by Google, which was under discussion at the time. "Do we really want to lose one of the most important mobile apps to Google?", Cue asked in the email.
No strategy to poach WhatsApp users
Apple’s software chief Craig Federighi faulted the lack of a strategy to make iMessage the main messenger. Why would someone switch from WhatsApp to iMessage who hardly has any "iOS friends" have, Federighi said in his response to Cue. iMessage is "nice", but you need more than a "marginally better app", to entice users to switch their social network. In the absence of a clear strategy, he said he was concerned the move would only "remove an obstacle for iPhone families to give their children Android devices", said Federighi.
During a hearing by Epic lawyers (Epic vs. Apple, Docket No. 4:20-cv-05640, United States District Court Northern District of California Oakland Division), Cue now emphasized that he does not believe the lack of iMessage on Android is a hurdle for families to give their children an Android device.
In addition to Federighi, according to the court documents, she also spoke to 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 is true for Apple’s VoIP service FaceTime, which Steve Jobs promised to make an open industry standard when it was introduced "open industry standard" and apparently surprised his own team with this announcement.
Flash on the iPhone "shamefully"
Parts of Apple’s internal discussions about iMessage for Android had already become known in advance, but now a rough part of the top manager’s statement can be read – segments, however, remain blacked out.
The now published hearings also include the questioning of Apple’s former iOS boss Scott Forstall: He explained once again that there had been heated internal discussions about whether native apps should be allowed on the iPhone in the first place – or rather only web apps. Apple did not introduce an SDK for app development and the App Store until a year after the iPhone went on sale. They also tried to help Adobe get Flash to work on iPhones, Forstall is quoted as saying. That was successful, but the performance was just plain "miserable and shameful" and accordingly there was never any support for Flash on iOS devices.