Apple may bring its popular communication service iMessage over to Android.
It’s not a sure thing, but there’s been a lot of chatter about iMessage and other apps from the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech company getting repackaged for Google’s mobile operating system.
The idea is more plausible than you may think. Apple already makes three applications for Android: Apple Music, Beats Pill and Move to iOS (as the name implies, a tool to help people switch to the iPhone).
Given that iMessage offers several benefits like end-to-end encryption, message sync with a user's Mac, and more reliability than SMS, why would Apple send such a strategic advantage to a rival platform? Some may see it as a gateway drug to get some people to start to give a second look to Apple’s ecosystem.
At the same time, BlackBerry — that former enterprise mobile heavyweight — is betting heaving on Android. Last month, CEO John Chen said the company plans to release at least one and possibly two new devices this year that will run Android instead of the company’s own BlackBerry 10 OS.
One reason Apple might consider such a move is to reverse the perception by investors the company is a one-trick pony. Granted, the record profits in the last couple of quarters indicate it’s one heck of a trick.
But stock performance tends to trend downward even after Apple announces such record profits.
With Apple Music, the company has sought a different strategy since it’s a cloud-based product. You can subscribe and listen to the service on any platform.
Apple Music lives in iTunes on Mac and Windows, and of course it’s baked into the music app on iOS. Apple Music on Android is still in beta, but it’s there for anyone who wants to listen with their subscription.
In a recent meeting with Apple employees, sources said CEO Tim Cook told the group Apple Music was a test bed for trying out its services on Android, with possible expansion of others in the future.
Since money is the same color whatever platform it comes from, this is a case where it’s in Apple’s interests to get its service out there, regardless of platform. Apple Music, like other subscription services, is more appealing to the music industry and investors by the number of subscribers. Anything to raise that number is worth doing.
While Apple would be unlikely to charge for iMessage, it could use its fight with the FBI on privacy to show its street cred with user privacy. This may be an appealing message for those using Android devices.
Should Apple bring iMessage to Android, this could give those who don’t have an Apple device the chance to experience what Apple certainly feels is a superior messaging service. Android devices rely on SMS, which is why when you use an iPhone and text someone with an Android the messages turn green and you don’t get the real-time typing notifications.
The iPhone once worked as a halo device that lured people into the world of Macs. The strategy could be the same with software — if Android users start to get invested in Apple’s ecosystem with music, messaging, or other content it could be worth it to start buying iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks.
This cloud strategy works very well for Google. The Mountain View company’s services are rather prominent on iOS, so much that Google pulls in a lot of revenue from search and cloud services on iPhones and iPads.
Apple doesn’t have the kind of cloud revenue possibilities as Google, but this could be a very savvy move to diversify the company’s income. During the last earnings report we learned over 70 percent of Apple’s revenues comes from the iPhone. Even though Apple has over $200 billion in cash, investors don’t like it when success only comes from one, large slice of the pie.
Apple is likely to continue its domination on the hardware front. Being able to rope in some new users with attractive software is a good idea, and one that we would have never dreamed possible just a few years ago when the iPhone was the top game in town. Android is too big to ignore, and such a strategic shift could bring more users to the company’s main cash cow: hardware.