Google calls on Apple to support industry standard over iMessage 'bullying'

The Messaging app on the Apple iPhone
"I've had people with Androids apologise that they don't have iMessage." Photo credit: Getty Images

Google is calling on Apple to support an industry standard for messaging amid reports that teens can feel bullied into using iMessage over Android alternatives.

A Wall Street Journal article documented multiple cases where young people turned their noses up at others when their messages appear green on their iPhone screen, indicating they were sent by SMS, rather than blue indicating it was an iMessage.

Google Senior Vice President Hiroshi Lockheimer shared the article on Twitter, saying "Apple's iMessage lock-in is a documented strategy".

"Using peer pressure and bullying as a way to sell products is disingenuous for a company that has humanity and equity as a core part of its marketing. The standards exist today to fix this."

Grace Fang, a 20-year-old US student, said she had witnessed those kinds of dynamics among her peers.

"I've had people with Androids apologise that they have Androids and don't have iMessage," she told the Journal. "People don't seem to like green text bubbles that much and seem to have this visceral negative reaction to it."

Another US student, 24-year-old Jocelyn Maher said she was mocked for texts with potential boyfriends that were green. "My sister literally went 'Ew, that's gross'," she said.

She had even persuaded a previous boyfriend to switch from Android to iPhone after some "gentle badgering" but the relationship didn't last.

Lockheimer followed up yesterday with a clarification that he didn't want Apple to make iMessage available on Android, and instead support Rich Communication Services (RCS), the "the industry standard for modern messaging".

"Why is this important? Phone number-based messaging is the fallback that we all know will work," Lockheimer tweeted.

"Supporting RCS would improve the experience for both iOS and Android users alike. That's right, RCS will also improve the experience and privacy for iOS users.

"By not incorporating RCS, Apple is holding back the industry and holding back the user experience for not only Android users but also their own customers."

In a statement to the WSJ, Apple said: "With iMessage we built a great service that our users love and that is different from those offered by other platforms", seemingly indicating the company has no plans to change.