Why Apple’s iMessage Is Winning: Teens Dread the Green Text Bubble

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The iPhone maker developed iMessage into an essential texting tool for teens. Android users trigger a slightly less cool green bubble: ‘Ew, that’s gross.’

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The pressure to be part of the Blue Text group is the product of decisions from Apple executives years ago who, with little fanfare, built iMessage into one of the world’s most widely used social networks and the iPhone among youth. helped to consolidate its dominance. Smartphone users in the US

How this happened came to light last year during Apple’s court battle against “Fortnite” maker Epic Games Inc., which claimed the tech giant held an unfair monopoly on the distribution of apps on the iPhone. As part of the fight, thousands of pages of internal records were made public. Some revealed the long-running debate about whether to offer iMessage on phones running Google’s Android operating system. Apple made an important decision: keep iMessage only for Apple users.

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“In the absence of a strategy to become the primary messaging service for [the] Bulk of Cell Phone Users, I’m Worried That iMessage on Android Will Just Work for Deletion [an] Barriers to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones,” Apple chief software executive Craig Federighi said in a 2013 email. Three years later, then-marketing chief Phil Schiller made a similar case in another email to chief executive Tim Cook: “Moving iMessage to Android will do us more harm than help,” he said. Another warning that year came from a former Apple executive who told his former colleagues in an email that “iMessage amounts to severe lock-in.”

From the very beginning, Apple got creative in preserving the uniqueness of iMessage. It did not ban the exchange of traditional text messages with Android users but instead branded those messages with a different color; iPhone users see green bubbles instead of blue ones when an Android user is part of a group chat. It also withheld some features. There’s no dot-dot-dot icon to display when, for example, a non-iPhone user is typing, and an iMessage heart or thumbs-up annotation has long allowed Android users to use text instead of images. as informed.

Apple later took other steps, increasing the popularity of its messaging service with teenagers. It added popular features such as animated cartoon-like faces that mirror a user’s face to compete with the messaging services of social media companies. Apple’s own survey of iPhone holders made public during the Epic Games lawsuit found that customers were particularly fond of replacing words with emoji and screen effects such as animated balloons and confetti. Enthusiastic teen users interviewed with Businesshala said they also liked how they could create group chats with other Apple users that add and subtract participants without starting a new series.

The cultivation of iMessage is in line with Apple’s broader strategy to tie its hardware, software, and services together into a self-reinforcing world — called a walled garden — that allows people to pay a premium for their relatively expensive gadgets. And encourages you to stay loyal to your brand. That strategy has drawn scrutiny from critics and lawmakers as part of a larger examination of how all the tech giants work. His basic question: Are Apple and other tech companies making products that consumers inevitably get, or are they building near-monos that unfairly suppress competition?

In its fight against Epic Games, Apple denies undue monopoly power in the smartphone market, pointing to intense competition globally with other phone makers and Android’s operating system. “With iMessage we have built a great service that our users love and that is different from what other platforms offer,” the company said in a statement.

Apple and other tech giants have long worked hard to gain traction with younger users, hoping to build brand habits that will extend into adulthood as they move from videogames to extended reality glasses to the metaverse. They fight each other for control of everything. globally, alphabet Inc. Of

The Android operating system is the major player among smartphone users, who are vocal about their support. Among American consumers, 40% use an iPhone, but among those aged 18 to 24, more than 70% are iPhone users, according to the most recent survey of consumers by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

Apple isn’t the first tech company to come up with a chat tool among young people, and such services sometimes struggle to stay relevant. Blackberry and America Online were among the popular online communication platforms of the past decades that eventually lost ground to new entrants.

Yet grabbing users so early in life could pay dividends for generations for Apple, which is already the world’s most valuable publicly traded company. It briefly surpassed $3 trillion in market cap for the first time on January 3.

“These teens will continue to be consumers in the future and are expected to continue buying phones in their 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s,” said Harsh Kumar, an analyst at Piper Sandler. The firm recently found that 87 percent of teens surveyed last year owned an iPhone.

never date a green texter

Apple’s iMessage plays a vital role in the lives of young smartphone users and their parents, according to data and interviews with a dozen of these people. Teens and college students said they fear the boycott that comes with the green text. The social pressure is clear, with some reporting being singled out or singled out after the move away from iPhones.

“In my circle in college, and entering college in high school, most people have iPhones and use those types of iPhone specific features together,” said Ms. Lovitz, a Michigan student.

She said she learned that Apple has effectively built a social network of features that keep users, such as her and others, locked out. “There was definitely some kind of pressure on him to go back,” she said.

Many of the new iMessage features—such as 3D-like digital avatars known as Memojis—originally exist as a reason to own an iPhone and not directly make money for Apple. Last year Apple also made it possible to share FaceTime connections with Android users—a slight crack in Apple’s self-reinforcing ecosystem as video calling became more prevalent during the pandemic. In recent years, however, it has incorporated some money-making elements, including e-commerce links to other businesses such as Apple Pay and Starbucks.

“We know Apple users appreciate access to innovative features like end-to-end encryption across all of their Apple devices, TapBack and Memoji, as well as industry-leading privacy and security – all of which make iMessage unique. make,” Apple said in a statement.

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