Epic deposition reveals Eddy Cue pushed to bring iMessage to Android in 2013, but was overruled

New filings in the Epic vs. Apple legal battle have shed additional light on Apple’s decision-making process regarding bringing iMessage to Android. As it turns out, Apple senior VP Eddy Cue pushed for iMessage to come to Android in 2013, but was overruled by other Apple executives.

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As first spotted by the Verge, this new detail comes via a new deposition made public as part of the Epic case. The document details that Cue wanted to dedicate an entire team to porting iMessage to Android. The email exchange quoted below between Cue and Apple exec Craig Federighi, from April 2013, came amid reports that Google had attempted to acquire WhatsApp for $1 billion.

Cue: We really need 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… Do we want to lose one of the most important apps in a mobile environment to Google? They have search, mail, free video, and 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.

Federighi: Do you have any thoughts on how we would make switching to iMessage (from WhatsApp) compelling to masses of Android users who don’t have a bunch of iOS friends? iMessage is a nice app/service, but to get users to switch social networks we’d need more than a marginally better app. (This is why Google is willing to pay $1 billion — for the network, not for the app.)… In the absence of a strategy to become the primary messaging service for [the] bulk of cell phone users, I am concerned [that] iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove an obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones.

Also in the deposition, Cue remarks, “I remember the time of wanting to do an iMessage app on Android ourselves.” Cue is also asked in the deposition about whether or not not launching iMessage on Android “created an obstacle to families giving their kids Android phones.” Cue responds, “No, not at all.”

The Epic vs. Apple case thus far has provided an interesting look at internal communication at all. For instance, earlier filings revealed that Phil Schiller was also opposed to bringing iMessage, warning that doing so would “hurt us more than help us.”

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