Where's iMessage for Android?

Why Apple keeps iMessage locked to a single platform in a cross-platform messaging world

iMessage is Apple's text and media messaging service, bundled into the Messages app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. And that's where the platform support ends. There's no iMessage for Android or for Windows. There's certainly no iMessage for Windows Phone or BlackBerry. Unlike Apple's Mail, Contacts, Calendar, and iWork, there's not even an iMessage in the iCloud. But, on the heels of Facebook buying WhatsApp for $16 billion and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) being far too late to the cross-platform party... should there be?

If our friends, colleagues, and family all use Apple devices, a few glitches aside, iMessage is close to a perfect solution. If our friends, colleagues, and family aren't all in the Apple ecosystem then iMessage falls back on SMS/MMS. Not everyone wants to use — or pay for — carrier text and multimedia messaging service, however, so that's where cross-platform IM like WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger, Line, WeChat, and others come in.

If Apple released iMessage for Android — and perhaps others platforms, including the web — then iOS users could both stay in Messages.app, and stay connected to their cross-platform contacts. Apple could also potentially gain a messaging user base as big as WhatsApp, Line, or the other giant services. So why haven't they?

BlackBerry's missed BBM boat

BlackBerry was once in a similar situation. Evolving from the pager they grew to support email first, then BBM. By 2006 they were an incredibly popular handset manufacturer with an incredibly popular messaging service attached to their platform. And those two things, their handset popularity and their messaging popularity, were inextricably linked.

By 2010, however BlackBerry's handsets had fallen behind iPhone and Android. There was talk of BlackBerry taking BBM cross-platform but nothing ever came of it. They were seemingly afraid that if they let their messaging system go, their users would go with it. It wasn't apparent to them at all that their messaging business could surpass their handset business. That BlackBerry as a company could be valued at around $5 billion and WhatsApp, a cross-platform clone of BBM, would one day go for $16 billion. So BlackBerry waited. They waited until many of their users had moved on and only then did they take BBM cross-platform. And instead of a position of strength and dominance, they find themselves fighting to survive.

Could Apple face a similar problem? Could keeping iMessage restricted to iOS hurt them the same way failing to make BBM cross-platform earlier enough hurt BlackBerry?


Products vs. businesses

Apple doesn't mistake their products for their business. Instead of protecting the iPod and the Mac, they pushed ahead with iPhone and iPad. Now, as digital music sales have tanked and PC sales have slowed, Apple is more successful than ever. That's because Apple's business was never iPods and Macs, it was personal computing devices. They try very, very hard to obsolete themselves before someone else can obsolete them.

Facebook has proven themselves to be similar. Facebook's business isn't Facebook. It's attention. Facebook is just a product. Rather than obsoleting themselves the way Apple does, however, they buy companies that appear to be on a path towards obsoleting them. Hence Instagram and now WhatsApp. Facebook doesn't care about people using Instagram or WhatsApp instead of Facebook any more than Apple cares about someone using an iPhone or iPad instead of an iPod or Mac. They just care that they're using Facebook products.

BlackBerry, on the other hand, thought handsets were their business and they were wrong. Handsets were just their product. Attention was their business as well. Namely the attention their phenomenal communication experience gave them. Security, physical keyboards, blinking notification lights, and the handsets themselves only contributed to the delivery of those communications to get and keep that attention, be it pages and email in the early days or BBM after it was developed.

Apple isn't in the attention business. Apple is not the compelling scene through the window. Apple is the window. Apple doesn't much care what scene you're looking at through the window, as long as it's Apple's window you're looking through. And that's a very different dynamic.

The secrets to success

To stay successful, BlackBerry had to make sure they kept their users' attention. Facebook likewise. Apple does not. To stay successful Apple has to make sure the devices through which people give their attention have Apple logos on them, regardless of where that attention is going.

Part of doing that is ensuring that iPhones and iPads provide a base-level of functionality right out of the box. The other part is making sure the iPhone and iPad remain the absolute best gateway to the internet and to apps beyond what they come with in the box.

iMessage is there to make sure anyone with an iPhone or iPad can easily keep in contact with the people they care about. Phenomenal HTML5 support and killer Cocoa frameworks are there to make sure any developer can easily and delightfully launch any other messaging app imaginable on the App Store. Which is exactly what they've done.

So where's iMessage for Android?

Apple has traditionally been a far better hardware and software company than they've been a services company. Not only wouldn't cross-platform iMessage play to their strengths, it would further burden their resources.

As much as you or I or many other people might like iMessage to go cross-platform, to be able to use Messages.app to chat with our Android and Windows and other friends, colleagues, and family, to use it on any device or on the web, Apple doesn't need it to. 1) Because iMessage's only major reason for being is to increase the overall value of Apple's actual business: personal computing devices, and 2) because every other service has gone cross-platform for iPhone and iPad, often first and best. Not only isn't that a problem for Apple, it's a key reason for their success.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Where's iMessage for Android?


I don't believe that iMessage will make it out of Apple's ecosystem. That's is something that is closely tied to Apple products. Really, I know people who bought iDevices just for iMessage. It shouldn't be a problem right now with Apple because so many people have their devices. I would love to see it come to Android, but I doubt that will happen....

Nexus 5... enough said

I don't see it happening either, although there is hundreds of millions of non-idevice users out there. I honestly believe bottom line that apple just doesn't care. What I mean is that they are not dying RIM/Blackberry who needed to make a move to stay relevant. Apple is at the top of their game right now, making money hand over fist. They do not need to lure customers in through a free messenger service to stay relevant as they are doing just fine as is. Nor are they hurting for money what so ever like RIM needs.

I don't think a lot of people believed that RIM would open their ecosystem either, but I believe that the only reason this happened was that they reached a point of desperation to try to stay relevant in mobile. Apple isn't in that position and I don't see them opening their ecosystem to other devices anytime soon.

I do wish Apple would make an iMessage app for Windows though like on Mac you could log into as use iMessage. Jailbroken RemoteMessages works well but a native solution is always better.

I agree that Apple doesn't have to add iMessage to Android. But they should consider adding PC capability. It would be very useful to use iMessage while at work. Same for iTunes Radio, open it up to the web.

Why they will put something great in a shitty OS? I like they keep it this way.. When you are with WP or Android you are wondering what App to download to send msg-s to people from other countries, to other carriers if your plan doesn't include free text msg-s to all carriers.. For people with iDevices this is not a problem. And if someone of your friends is with Android or WP you can always download viber or what's app.. But this is your choice, others have to use them.. And with iPhone 6 more and more people will jump to Apple... So this is great :-)

Dude your fanboyism is definitely glowing. Some people always find an excuse to bash other mobile Operating systems...

Nexus 5... enough said

Fanboyism? I have Note 3 and iPhone 5S.. Some people are here just for a number.. I see how my iOS is running, and how Note 3 with KitKat... Still some lags, app drops and 1000 more problems.. I am not Fan Boy, I just live in reality..

The nexus 5 is smoother , more fluid than any iPhone I have a 5s and had previous iphones . I wouldn't take a Samsung if it were free. Don't bash Android it's great as is iOS

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I also agree with you pure android is great and even me as an iPhone lover would make me want it. If I had to get an android phone it would definitely be a nexus 5 I can't stand all of the samsung crap and just samsung in general.

Fucking idiots more like it.
Never fails one has to start and like a fungus it starts one by one.

Um...you do realize that both Android and Windows Phone both have messaging fallbacks in place also. Not necessarily the same as iMessage, but there nonetheless.

Windows Phone has Facebook messaging built directly into their default messaging app. And seeing as Facebook is a pretty big service...that's nothing to sneeze at.

For Android, Hangouts (formerly Google Talk) is preloaded on every Android device. And with KitKat, Hangouts is the default messaging app. Again, it's there.

So yeah. Seeing as iOS users STILL download these other messaging apps in droves, the situation you provided (with WP and Android you're wondering what app to download to send msg-s to people from other countries) is still valid for them also. Especially seeing as iOS is not the dominant OS.

So please do not push your experience as a universal experience as it is only a localized experience for you. Thanks.

I find iMessage to be one of the worst services Apple currently offers. I can get a message on my iPhone and maybe 10 minutes later it'll appear on my iPad and/or OS X devices. The inability to actually notify me of a message on all devices at or near the same time is incredibly annoying. I may not always be near the device that gets dinged first and I'll be waiting, and waiting and waiting for it to come across on the device I'm actually at and using. Before they even consider, if they ever actually do, bringing it to another platform, they seriously need to fix the issues they already have with the one platform they're already on.

That never happens to me. I get every message on all my devices within a couple seconds. Maybe you're the exception.

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I wish I was, because it could probably be easily fixed on my end then, but I know several people who have this issue. And I promise I'm not grandstanding either, I seriously know several who experience the same issue.

That's an ongoing complaint on these tech sites. The inconsistency with imessage on multiple devices.

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There's something that tries to figure out where you are and what you're using and ping that device first, but it sometimes seems to mess up and then it's annoying.

Hopefully they'll keep working on fixing all that.

I certainly hope they do. I understand that they're making a service for hundreds of millions of people and it isn't always going to work for everyone. I'm sure I'm in the minority, but statistics don't mean squat when it comes to those who are actually affected.

I've actually talked to a friend who has suffered from this issue too and we were both really hoping Apple would have snapped up WhatsApp or a similar service because we've never had this issue with WhatsApp. But alas it was not meant to be.

Here's hoping the issue gets fixed sooner rather than later :-)

But whatsapp can only be used on your phone, and so that's probably why you have never had a problem with messages arriving out of sync...

Think for a moment. And this is not a dig at you, but if it is taking 10 mins there is something wrong with your network and not the devices. You have something out of sync.

You have made a VALID point however as to why Apple doesn't and won't play with the other kids in the pool.

It is tough enough to keep your own side of the street clean let alone everyone else's.

I can appreciate what you're saying and I certainly won't discount anything. With that being said, I don't believe this is the issue, at least not every time. A lot of times my iPhone and iPad aren't connected to my home network because LTE is faster, so I'll have WiFi off to get the best throughput and my Mac mini will get a message first while I'm laying in bed watching some Netflix or whatever. That becomes frustrating because I'm waiting for it to come through and then end up having to get up to see the message and even after reading it there, I'm still waiting for it to come through on one of the other devices that isn't connected to my network.

As a disclaimer, that isn't always true, that's just one example that I know has happened which makes me think it isn't my network.

And with all of this being said, I am a huge fan of Apple and this is one small issue that is frustrating to me, so it isn't like I've got major issues that push me to another platform.

As someone who's also an Android user, I couldn't care less. Bring on more Hangouts users. At least Google is making an effort to provide people who use other devices, than just Nexus or Android, to have access to their services. I support that.

For such an amazing and innovative company, this is such a crappy mentality (making something exclusive to its own platform).

Apple's business model is different from Google's. What works for one company does not necessarily work for the other. Google is in the business of providing online services in exchange for mining your data. Thus it's in Google's best interest to make their products available everywhere, for any platform, to increase their penetration. It doesn't matter if you use Google maps on safari for OSX or if you use an android phone, it only matters that you use google maps. Apple is in the business of selling you an appliance, if you will. They package their software into their hardware, and sell you an all-in-one package. They don't make much money if you don't buy their hardware. So as soon as you can explain how making iMessage available for android will increase iPhone sales, then you will have a compelling argument. Making services like iMessage available on competing platforms just dilutes the Apple brand and costs them money.

They don't sell the appliance without software to tell that hardware what its purpose is. And their software is amazing. You're right about it diluting the brand, but if their software/messaging service is that good, do you think they'd need to worry?

And do you believe Apple isn't 'mining' your data too?

No, apple is not mining your data in the way the Google does. There was an article just this past week about how advertisers aren't satisfied with the amount of data they are getting from Apple and Amazon about their users.

In either case, though, Apple makes it's money by selling you hardware. The software and the services are just their to further entice you.

Apple is certainly mining your data and your usage habits, and they explicitly reserve the right to do so - and to share it with third parties - on their privacy page. We know that they don't share demographic information with iAd buyers, anything else is speculation. That's a start, but, until they publicly affirm they will not do something, it makes more sense to assume any large company is doing exactly what their public policies claim.

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Yes because at the time you needed a computer to get music on an iPod. And most people used Windows PCs. Once Apple made iTunes for Windows iPod sales took off.

yea, but you already bought the hardware. See the difference? There really was no way around it at the time. The main goal was to get the iPod (Apple's hardware and Apple's software) into everyone's hand, and if you had to use a windows computer (via Apple software of course) to do it, then so be it. But once you loaded your music, you didn't have to interact with windows at all to use your iPod.

"So where's iMessage for Android?"

Right. I'm sure Apple will release iMessage for Android.
Just about the same time they release FaceTime and Passbook for Android.

Doesn't all the major plans include unlimited call/text but NOT unlimited data? Thus, heavy iMessage usage would bring you closer to your cap whilst normal SMS would not? I like iMessage and all but sometimes SMS is just faster and more reliable...

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"Doesn't all the major plans include unlimited call/text but NOT unlimited data?"

There is a whole world outside USA and normally, SMS are not unlimited or free. And international SMS are not free

iMessage is about connecting you to other Apple users. I'm sure noone wants iads and fees littering imessage. So how would imessage for everyone else pay off for Apple? Supposedly Apple doesn't mine your info, sell it, etc.

If someone can put together how this is worth billions to Apple (without becoming facebook or google like in terms of privacy and ads), then let's hear it. It looks like a major cost to me. BBM's solution? Sell stickers..

And it's worth pointing out, just as MS Office isn't really Office on other platforms, neither would iMessage.

iMessage is several orders of magnitude less complex than Office, and what complexity exists is almost exclusively server side. Technically, there is no reason Apple could not do it.

I agree financially it would be stupid. Technically simple or not, there is still a cost, and no real benefit to Apple. Anecdotally, several of my daughters friends switched from Android to iOS specifically because their team had almost all iPhones, and they used group messages. In my small circle, iMessage for Android would have been 3 lost sales right there.

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I think apple missed a trick by not buying and not going cross platform with skype. As apple would've worked wonders with the quality of it.

I agree that Skype quality was quite poor, but it has got so much better in the past month.
Also, Skype is possibly the widest reaching cross platform messaging and communicating platform - Skype is the reason Apple needs to expand iMessage, not BBM or WhatsApp.

I think this article is slightly missing the point and doesn't discuss issues like why, in places like Europe where unlimited and free text messages are also the norm like the USA, text messaging is in decline and apps like WhatsApp are so popular.

I suspect the reason for this is that text messaging was originally part of GSM, the mobile phone standard used from the start in most countries outside the USA. In these countries, text messaging has been around since the early 90s - a lot longer than it has been around in the USA. Consequently, text messaging is viewed as 'old' in a lot of countries.

In places like the UK, text message numbers actually dropped last year - because people are moving to apps like WhatsApp en masse. Part of the reason for this is because these apps allow you to do more than texts do (such as send 'stickers' and larger files), and they also have a social aspect to them. Texting is what 'old people' do.

I think Steve Jobs used to like quoting Henry Ford when he said that if he'd asked the public what they wanted, they wouldn't have said a car - they would have asked for a faster horse. In this context, iMessage is the 'faster horse'. An attempt to streamline text messaging, when text messaging is already in decline in many countries.

There would be no real point in launching iMessage for Android or other platforms - people in a lot of countries wouldn't see any use for it.

Old but still widely used otherwise why are third party messaging services like Whatsapp cashing in? Or wireless providers still charging ridiculous fees and limiting texting?

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What I'm trying to say here is that there is a distinction between old fashioned 'texting' (SMS) and 'Instant messaging' apps like WhatsApp. I don't think it's been helped by a lot of the American media (who don't really seem to understand WhatsApp) describing WhatsApp as a 'texting' or 'SMS' app. It isn't. It's an instant messaging app.

The wider point is that old fashioned texting / SMS is in decline, and is considered 'old' in a lot of places. Instant messaging apps (like WhatsApp) are largely replacing SMS.

Is I messages not the same as in IM? we can see in real time that others are sending messages to us and vice versa.

You cannot "streamline" text messaging by introducing a protocol that is locked to one device (smartphone) type/brand. You do it by proliferating it across as many platforms as possible. That is why WhatsApp is #winning. They get it, Apple is not interested in streamlining anything. They are interested in locking in customers so that they can reap the rewards of their high hardware price margins.

Exactly how would making iMessage cross platform be profitable for Apple? What's the benefit to Apple?

So Facebook paid lots of money for an IM and people are hyperventilating. FB is not sharing one orbit with Apple, or Google for that matter. Take a deep breath.

It would be an interesting move, but I think Apple use iTunes as one of their tools to try and lock people into iOS .

I work for a wireless carrier and many people buy an iPhone just because of iMessage

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I'm guessing you're based in the USA. In other countries it isn't the case - people use WhatsApp and other similar apps instead, because they guarantee free messaging to whichever platform you're messaging to. That's why WhatsApp could command such a high price from Facebook.

I am from the US and currently live in the UK. I see more iPhones here than other smartphones. I don't understand your point. Whatsapp is avaiable on all the major OS's. It's not any different than installing Facebook Messenger on an iphone. iMessage is just another feature added to an iPhone.

And whatsapp is only free for the first year. .99 after.

Lol. You know whats funny about this article.. this is exactly how people felt about BBM on bb when bb was riding high. Thats the great thing about hindsight.. it always seems to make sense except you didnt realise it before it all went wrong. Apple and BB of course have different straregies but then again.. before you know it things could turn out that what works today might not work tomorrow. Only then do you realise that.. hold on, we have loads of users that loved Imessage but are moving to other products so maybe now we should go cross platform. A lot of people actually used bb for its handsets i.e the keyboards and comms experience like push messaging, multi-tasking, battery life etc.. not just bbm. However, bbm is one of its strengths that is easily applied to other platforms. Apple should go cross platform now as a lot of people already only want iphones because of imessage and facetime like one of the posters above already said (his reason for staying with the iphone is due to imessage). BBM and others already do this (yes they are late but.. apple would be later) so if things go wrong with the handset buisiness.. we'll be watching the bb type saga all over again. No offence Rene but i do think you mostly only like to see the +ve of apple strategy because its your chosen brand. The truth is nobody cares and people would all flock to what is hot at the time and you can sure as hell be sure that apple products would not always be that product to get. You seem to have forgotten already that it was only a few years ago that Bill Gates bailed apple out and saved it from collapse. This is exactly why google and Microsoft have always and already ensure they have their apps on other platforms. It's not to hard to figure out. The world has already moved on from closed eco system thinking. Think android. Think BYOD. Act now. I for one am a blackberry10 user but use whatsapp, skype and gtalk and facebook messenger also even though its mostly bbm i use however, thanks to bb comms experience the hub makes them all one app so if imessage came along id gladly use it too as long as its integrated into the hub.like the rest.

Nah, I think you totally missed the point. This is how people felt about BBM when BlackBerry started to fail. No one was asking for X-platform BBM pre-iPhone. Even our friends at CrackBerry were begging for it come 2010. (Listen here: http://www.imore.com/vector-31-facebook-whatsapp-and-value-mobile-messaging).

Unlike BBM, however, iMessage is not a powerful enough service that it could become Apple's primary business. If Apple's device business became obsoleted like BlackBerry's was, iMessage wouldn't save it no matter how early it went cross platform.

Google has their apps on Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10? Or did I miss that?

You're missing the bigger point, though: It's not about open or closed, it's about core business. Google's search code isn't open or cross-platform. Nor is their AdSense engine. Nor are their Google Play services. Every company is a blend of both.

BlackBerry's Torch browser exists because of Apple's open source, cross-platform WebKit engine. None of that has anything to do with this.

Attention/comms/messaging isn't and never has been Apple's business. It was BlackBerry's. It is Facebook's. That makes for a huge difference in strategy.

Nah mate. From my personal knowledge i can assure you that before bb began to "fail".. others wanted a bbm like experience thus you had the whatsapp's, the kik's and co step in and fill the void that bb refused to fill. Dunno about Canada or North America but here in europe.. UK especially that was the case. That is also why at some point bbm did work on some old nokia phone. It had nothing to do with Apple. The issue at the time though is bb was riding high and not interested in sharing what it saw as its competitive advantage. This competitive advantage is why it was so difficult for them to go cross platform. Even today, you still have those die hards that find it absurd and feel now that bbm is xplatform it spells the ultimate death of bb as we knew it. I beg to differ though.

Also, yes you are right that google services are not currently on bb10 or windows but thats merely a business cost/case decision and it does make sense. Note however that all google services were on the older bb's until sales dropped to its current levels so its not like it cannot happen again if by some miracle things pick up for blackberry and windows phone. Google would provide its services to any platform that has enough of a customer base to justify the cost of developing for and supporting its apps. Google will even kill its own services on its platform if it feels there is not a substantial level of use as we all know. Today, the iphone and android devices have the user numbers so it only makes sense for it to do so. Having said all that.. despite what you may feel apples core business is the fact is its the hardware it offers in regards to the ipod, iphone and ipad is what got it where it is today. Truth is they do what they do in the ios way which people have grown to love but that innitial attraction was the physical look. Even today people are on to them mainly for how they look with the way they work being an added benefit. You even have those.. yourslef inclusive that wish ios borrowed certain aspects from the other os's i.e. synergy from WebOS while others long for the leds or messaging methodology from bb or the way android is configurable and can be modified to each individuals preference etc.. You have loads who buy macs cos they're everywhere then moan that they cant do things the way they did on windows. IMHO.. Apples core business is design (and yes i'm aware of itunes, icloud etc but thats just as a result of the way the tech world was going and they had to do it to keep people on their hardware thus.. all locked in) ..and should that begin to falter.. they need stuff out there thats cross platform to at least keep them relevant until their next big innovation.

Just my 2 pence.

In the old world, company valuations were based on a multiple of revenue or free cash flow, while also factoring growth over time. But in the new world of social media, revenue is often something that will come later as the result of hyper growth while traditional valuation techniques don't apply.
Because Facebook doesn't control a mobile platform itself (unlike Google with Android), and with its stock rising, Zuckerberg likely felt it had to make this move now to add fuel to its transition to the world of mobile computing. If Facebook didn't make this move, Google, which reportedly offered $10 billlion for WhatsApp, likely would have.
Still, the fact is that we can’t know today whether or not this is a good deal for Facebook. Clearly Zuckerberg sees a big piece of Facebook’s future in WhatsApp, because he’s paying more than 10% of Facebook’s market cap for it, not to mention putting cofounder and CEO Jan Koum on its board.
Perhaps it boils down to what Kara Swisher said: "Facebook Price for Having No Phone OS? $19 Billion. A Must-Have Apps Play? Priceless." :)

I like iMessage just for iOS it allows me to know who has an iPhone and communicating with them is free. Unless the same option would be available for Android, I don't see the need. Great read!

Ps.... Why are people still fighting over what phone a persons own. People have choices. That's android or IOS, it's there choice. No one has to like what you like.

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Rene, please would you guys consider writing an article about Telegram. Due to the comments here last week, I installed it and personally I think it's pretty good. Reading their FAQ made me feel warm and safe ;)

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Unless Apple would fully commit to creating an iMessage app for Android capable of handling SMS and MMS, I don't want it. It's anti-consumer to produce a service like this that is only available to Apple customers. Apple brags about how elitist their customers are. What the world needs in terms of communication is a complete overhaul of text communication. SMS and MMS, and even minutes are long-outdated. We need a new standard, and Apple cannot be the company to create that so long as they continue to only provide for their targeted middle-upper class consumers

I think one thing to remember is that Apple isn't going to do anything for Google period. Granted, Jobs is no longer at the helm but don't think his sentiments of going "thermonuclear" on Google and Android don't still reverberate throughout the company and their way of doing business.

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Google fundamentally believes that private messages are fodder for mining personal information. Apple does not. I can't see how Apple maintains control over iMessage on Android. Do you want every random Android app to have a backdoor to your conversations? Google is fine with that. Apple is not. I don't want to see Apple's communication services on Android.

If I were Apple, which I can assure you I'm not, would I want my messaging service on other platforms, which wouldn't run it properly, so that everyone could then say, "This iMessage app SUCKS!" Probably not. Probably...not.

why should they get imessage when we can't even get their keyboards? there would have to be some kind of mutual trade

Rene, you make an excellent argument against a cross-platform iMessage from Apple's point of view, but it is not a strong argument from my point of view as an iOS for two reasons:

1) Cross-platform iMessage would save me money (I still have to monitor my SMS exchanges with my non-iMessage friends because I’m on ATT 200/month text plan).
2) I find it inconvenient that I can not use iMessage on my Macs and non-cellular iOS devices to initiate or reply to messages from users off of iOS.

If it were cost effective to offer cross-platform iMessage, not only would an exquisitely executed iMessage on Android, et al, benefit iOS/OS X users, but it might also have a similar effect on non-Apple users that iTunes on Windows had. That single cross-platform product decision can not be underestimated in regard to Apple's current position.

"Apple has traditionally been a far better hardware and software company than they've been a services company"

Apple, justifiably, has been the target of this criticism (I've got complaints dating back to eWorld), but I would like someone with deep knowledge on the subject to discuss Microsoft's role in Apple's current iCloud services mix. Perhaps Apple's not the only enterprise carrying water this time around.

Apple opening up iMessages means more servers and more cloud power than they use now to service their actual customer base. What's the upside to Apple expending resources for these non Apple clients? That's like me paying for someone else's kids to take the MCAT not gonna happen!

"Now, as digital music sales have tanked ..."

Isn't that a rather large overstatement?

I have heard other sources say that sales are "down a bit," but nowhere else have I heard that sales have "tanked," (which is generally used to denote a complete failure).

Specifically iMessage can be broadened. And deepened. "... WeChat, Line, and KakaoTalk look more like enhanced versions of Facebook, reimagined for the mobile era, than what they started out as: enhanced SMS services" McKenzie.

Don't much care for iMessage. Not all of my friends use iPhones so I still need SMS. US carrier plans now have unlimited SMS anyway. It is nothing but a headache when trying to dual wield iOS and Android. Personally, there is no advantage to me using any more. If I have no cell signal (extremely rate now) I can use Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

Nothing unusual about Apple going back on promises.
When this was launched it would be "open", and my first comment was "when pigs fly".

Think about what AT and T had to build for the basic phone in the early twentieth century.
The infrastructure and cabling, phones, plugs etc...

They were called a monopoly, but looking back in the day, who were they going to let in for just basic phone.

Take TV, satellite, cable. None play with each other.

There is no way Apple would be that stupid.

Lead, follow, or GET OUT OF THE WAY!

communication is about relationships and it's almost a certainty that a person will want to communicate with somebody who isn't on iOS. by not having a facility I (and a suspect many others) have moved to whatsapp etc which works across platforms without having to worry about compatibility

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Lmao, there is a android app for imessaging, you just have to google it. Be sure and check out the fine print first though. They won't let me post the link here.

Maybe Apple simply doesn't want Samsung getting their hands on it, reverse-engineering it and calling it S-Message.

If Samsung wanted to do that, they could. They already have WhatsApp-style registration for ChatOn and it's an SMS/MMS client, now as well. If they wanted an S Message they could have just integrated that IM and Voice/Video Calling protocol right into their SMS/MMS App. ChatOn does everything iMessage does already, except automatically switch between SMS/MMS based on availability. That part isn't hard to do, if the devices are connected to the back-end service, which they already do on their phones (Samsung Account, Samsung PUSH Service, etc.).

Samsung hasn't done it yet, because they don't see the point in a messaging service tied to one device type/vendor, when there are already hundreds of messaging services in use right now. That's why they launched ChatOn on virtually every platform worth mentioning - even feature phones. That is useful to do for things like Wearables, which is a relatively new[er] market and you can use the opportunities you gain as being early to it to drive device sales, but messaging services are a commodity now. No one cares that much about them, because they can easily be ignored or replaced.

iMessage was nice, but I found it utterly worthless if you don't have multiple Apple devices and especially if you don't have an Apple PC because I don't like typing on a phone when I am sitting in front of my PC. It's built to get you to want more of their devices (iPad, iPhone, iMac, MacBook, iTouch, etc.) but the price of admission was way too high for me. I got rid of the iPhone, and installed Facebook Messenger on the Android phone instead.

This article has potential, but is off the mark on a lot. What does this even mean, "Instead of protecting the iPod and the Mac, they pushed ahead with iPhone and iPad. "
And they are a better hardware company than a services company? No, they aren't; and you don't mention a rather important part of their business... Software.
This article is riddled with missing bits and off-the-mark observations. Sorry.

It will only take so long before a Carrier clones iMessage. Verizon is halfway there with their "Integrated Messaging" product and "Message+" application. Once they finish, I don't doubt AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint will be pretty quick to copy them.

Really need the carriers to create a standard and implement it in their services packages to get away from the proprietary (and way too varied) messaging solutions we have now. There are way too many, and iMessage is one of them.

While I realize this article has been posted over a year ago, I wanted to let everyone know that there is an iMessage application for Android that you can find on http://imessageforandroid.com

The application works and has been working for a relatively long time, just google/youtube it multiple videos are available that verify the app works.