We´ve all thought about it: “If only Apple released iMessage on Android!” Some might even think Apple is dumb for not releasing such a successful messaging service on a platform that has more users than its own. Its user base would skyrocket if they just released it on Android, right? Well, the answer might be slightly more complicated than a simple yes or no. Let´s first analyze the different types of services Apple offers.
There are directly monetized services with which Apple makes millions of dollars, sometimes even surpassing the sales of its own hardware devices such as Macs or iPads. I´m talking about services like iTunes and Apple Music, which are essential services that Apple can easily release on other platforms simply because they generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, and everyone benefits from them.
Then, there are mixed services, which, apart from also being monetized, bring an added value to Apple products. Such services are Apple Pay, App Store, iCloud and iBooks.
Lastly, there are services which are not monetized, meaning it costs Apple to maintain them, but they bring an added value directly to Apple products. These differentiators are services like Siri, iMessage and FaceTime. They are Apple´s own services that make their hardware devices unique.
|Monetized||iTunes, Apple Music|
|Differentiators||Siri, iMessage, FaceTime|
|Mixed||Apple Pay, App Store, iCloud, iBooks|
iMessage is an extremely well designed platform that is deeply rooted in Apple´s software, and with the latest update we saw in WWDC it just keeps getting better. There were some rumors that Apple was going to release it to Android in WWDC this year, however, that didn´t happen.
As we saw earlier, iMessage isn´t a monetized service like Apple Music or iTunes. Apple “loses” money maintaining the service and doesn´t receive a dime in return directly. The profit comes from the margin of extra benefits Apple can charge its customers when selling products that come with iMessage installed.
This WWDC Apple announced there would be an iMessage App Store for purchasing stickers for your chat and special features like that, but that isn´t directly monetizing the service; you can still use it with all the incredible features for free, and revenue from the iMessage App Store in-app purchases won´t be nearly enough to offset possible lost sales from people who prefer Android over iOS because they can have iMessage now.
Let´s talk briefly about a possible reason for iMessage to be on Android and other platforms. Apple is giving more and more priority to their services, and iMessage could become a platform outside the iPhone that brings together services like FaceTime, Siri or even Apple Pay, like we saw on the latest version of iMessage. It could go in that direction. Like Facebook Messenger or WeChat, iMessage is a platform that offers much more than simple communication between people.
In the war between messaging platforms, Apple could have a very powerful tool that might just win over Messenger, WeChat and WhatsApp if it decided to release iMessage to everyone by putting it on the web, Android and Windows.
But for this, Apple would have to make a decision that in short-term would make no economic sense: losing sales of iPhones / iPads to people who would opt for the competition if iMessage is already on another platform.
So we ask ourselves: what would be the real plan behind such a move? Getting increased sales with an integrated Apple Pay? Putting Siri and FaceTime in the hands of more users? Simply showcase iMessage? Unlike Microsoft or Google, Apple would most likely not see a direct benefit by putting their unique services on rival platforms.
So do you think Apple will ever bring iMessage to other platforms? Or would it be a dumb move to do so? Do you even use iMessage or have been tempted to move to iOS to have iMessage? Let us know what you think in the comments!