Tim Cook's attitude towards iPhone users who want a texting solution is condescending: it's time for Apple to talk to Android

Tim Cook’s attitude towards iPhone users who want a texting solution is condescending: it’s time for Apple to talk to Android

Apple CEO Tim Cook.AP Photo/Richard Drew

  • When asked to troubleshoot iPhone texting to Android, Tim Cook brushed it off with an offhand comment.

  • Apple CEO ignores years of user complaints instead of backing RCS standard.

  • The company’s refusal to fix this issue is a burden on iOS users, not Android users.

I was surprised when Tim Cook recently told a reporter who is also an iPhone user that Apple wouldn’t fix texting issues with Android because users don’t ask for it – and if the person wanted to send high-quality videos to his mother, “Buy your mother an iPhone.”

I found the CEO’s response surprisingly flippant. I believe that was also wrong.

For years, customers have been complaining about iPhone/Android texting issues on Apple’s community site, the place where customers ask Apple to fix things. There are over 600 posts about it.

As a former Gartner and Jupiter analyst who covered Apple for decades (and spent several years at Apple as a senior marketing executive), Cook’s tone, humorous as it might have been intended, n It wasn’t fun for users who want their devices to “just work.” This includes the ability to seamlessly message friends, family or co-workers who use Android phones.

Apple has earned billions from Windows clients in the past

During the heyday of the iPod, Apple’s top executives pushed for iTunes on Windows with full iPod support, despite the reluctance of Steve Jobs. With this, Apple could sell iPods to Windows customers and make money off them, they argued, far more money than by keeping the iPod as an expensive Mac-only accessory.

It took effort for these executives to get Jobs to relent (with Jobs’ warning that if he failed, they would be blamed), but it turned out to be one of the best decisions Apple had ever made. iPod and iTunes became multi-billion dollar companies, a major source of Apple revenue for years and the model for Apple’s current lucrative services business.

So it’s ironic that some of the same executives advocated against allowing messaging interoperability with Android.

Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering and head of iOS, feared that “iMessage on Android is simply used to remove [an] hurdle for iPhone families gifting their kids with Android phones.”

In 2016 emails made public by court filings, a former Apple employee wrote “iMessage amounts to a serious lockdown” of the Apple ecosystem. Phil Schiller, Apple’s former senior vice president of worldwide marketing, and now an Apple Fellow, responded by writing “moving iMessage to Android will hurt us more than it will help us.”

Apple should fix iMessage problem using RCH

Still, if Apple created an iMessage app for Android, the company could solve a user problem on both platforms. But it is not even necessary to create an Android application. It could simply use the widely adopted standard called Rich Communication Services.

RCS is no better than iMessage. It’s not worse either. It is, however, a technology created by Google, Apple’s biggest competitor in mobile.

If Apple just added RCS support at iOS, this would allow Apple to keep all the cool iOS features for itself, but would allow iOS users to send messages containing attachments such as videos and graphic messages to Android users with fidelity total.

Of course, Apple loves interoperability when there are benefits at stake, especially stable and predictable service revenue. (Wall Street loves stable, predictable revenue.) Apple TV+ lives on other platforms, even on Samsung TVs and monitors. Apple Music lives well in the Google Play App Store. And there probably isn’t a multi-billion company behind messaging interoperability.

But the company’s refusal to fix this issue is a burden on iOS users, not Android users. If iMessage is really a major reason why iPhone users stick around, then Apple is on a slippery slope. The more these interoperability issues plague Apple users, the more users will find ways around iMessage. This is already happening outside the United States, where more and more users are adopting services such as WhatsApp or Signal.

Once users entrust their communications to someone else’s app, that “lock” disappears.

Listen, I’m not saying the iPhone or Apple is doomed – it’s the Apple of 2022, not 2002. Apple will definitely sell an “amazing and best ever” 14 million iPhones this year (in a gorgeous shade of purple so iPhone buyers can make a visible statement that their iPhones are this year’s model, not an old iPhone 13 or worse, a 12).

It’s actually in Apple’s interest to help all smartphone users.

But despite Apple’s wishes, Android – the competition that Apple refuses to even acknowledge by name in public – isn’t going away. With a much larger share than iOS, Android is worldwide the standard platform, not iOS

Still, Apple’s DNA, more than ever, is profitability by keeping full control of its platforms. Contrary to popular marketing beliefs, Apple does not give away razors to sell blades: it sells the razors, the blades, the shaving cream and the Dopp bag. He wants to control the entire ecosystem.

Any kind of Android migration would cost Apple not just iPhone sales, but all ancillary paid services and companion devices like Apple Watch and other aftermarket products.

Apple acts as if it can protect this ecosystem by pretending that other options for users either don’t exist or are much worse than iOS or iPad OS. That’s just not the perception around the world, far from Jobs’ famous “reality distortion” field generated at Apple Park.

The undistorted reality is, despite Tim Cook’s comments, Apple users do want interoperability. Supporting it will keep users loyal to iOS, not frustrated with it.

Ultimately, it’s in Apple’s interest to open up the ecosystem a bit, not because it’s profitable, but because it’s the right thing to do for all smartphone users. Apple should act as soon as possible before the walled garden they created becomes another Maginot line.

Michael Gartenberg is a former senior marketing executive at Apple and covered the company for more than two decades at Gartner, Jupiter Research and Altimeter Group. He can be reached on Twitter at @Gartenberg.

The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

Disclosure: The author owns Apple stock.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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