Despite expanding some of its services to other rival platforms like Android, Apple naturally still keeps some of those under lock and key. FaceTime and iMessage have long been regarded as examples of Apple’s dominance and, to some extent, monopoly. That’s precisely the play that Epic Games is making when it presented documents showing how Apple could have expanded iMessage’s availability to Android but decided against it as a form of vendor lock-in.
The new document goes further back in time than an earlier deposition that sealed the fate of an iMessage port for Android in 2016. Taken together, the documents show a house divided between cementing Apple’s services in the market or keeping the iPhone’s lock-in. Current Apple SVP for Software and Services Eddie Cue was apparently of the former.
Email exchanges in 2013 between Cue and current SVP of software engineering Craig Federighi revealed that split mindset. This took place around the time that Google was rumored to be planning on acquiring WhatsApp. Of course, Facebook ended up buying it instead a year later but it was enough to cause Apple, or at least Cue, some concern.
According to the communication, Cue was worried that Google would become the dominant player in the messaging market, making Apple’s own iMessage lose its appeal. Prefiguring what would be said three years later, Federighi responded in the negative, implying that making iMessage cross-platform would remove an obstacle for families who want to give their kids cheaper Android phones than iPhones.
Fortunately for Apple, Google would end up actually being inconsistent with its handful of messaging services but iMessage’s platform exclusivity may no longer have the same benefit for Apple today. Epic Games is also using the service as a prime example of how Apple’s monopolistic practices have helped keep it in power.