A deposition related to Epic Games’ ongoing case against Apple reveals that Eddy Cue in 2013 championed iMessage for Android but was ultimately overruled.
The deposition transcript reported by The Verge indicates that in April of 2013, Cue was engaged in a documented conversation on the topic with Apple’s Craig Federighi. During that conversation, Cue expressed that Apple needed “to bring iMessage to Android. I have had a couple of people investigating this but we should go full speed and make this an official project.” The exchange further included a reference to losing market power to Google should the company fail to execute on the proposal.
“Do we want to lose one of the most important apps in a mobile environment to Google?” Cue wrote. “They have search, mail, free video and [are] growing quickly in browsers. We have the best messaging app and we should make it the industry standard. I don’t know what ways we can monetize it but it doesn’t cost us a lot to run.”
However, the picture painted by the deposition transcript indicates that fellow high-level Apple executives did not agree. Federighi responded to Cue by stating he was “concerned the iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove an obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones.”
The document further states that Apple’s Phil Schiller also disagreed with Cue about the plan. Asked whether Cue thought Schiller’s “view prevailed,” Cue responded that “obviously he didn’t think we should do it, and we didn’t do it, so you could say he prevailed. But I don’t think he was instrumental in the decision.”
Other parts of Cue’s deposition aren’t likely to help Apple’s case in its fight against allegations of antitrust, including from Epic. At another point in the interview, Cue was cited as writing in an earlier 2013 conversation between Schiller, Cue, and Tim Cook that, “getting customers using our stores (iTunes, App and iBookstore) is one of the best things we can do to get people hooked to the ecosystem.” Which, given the entire issue here with Epic centers on Apple’s App Store practices, does not exactly do Apple any favors.
But the fact that Cue had pushed for a reality wherein we could all use iMessage regardless of what platform our phones run and was shot down is, well, kind of a bummer. God forbid we should all be able to text in harmony without green bubble shame. More tragic is that Android effectively makes Tapbacks useless—a crime, really.