Following a report in The Wall Street Journal that documented how pressure to be a part of the blue text group is guiding teens' smartphone buying decisions, Google exec Hiroshi Lockheimer has taken to Twitter to lambaste Apple's color-coded chat bubbles, calling them a documented strategy by the company that uses peer pressure and bullying as a way to sell products.
Numerous high school and college students were interviewed for the article, which described situations where iMessage kept Android users on the outside of social circles. In one instance, a girls' sister mocked her for exchanging texts with potential paramours using Android phones calling the green bubbles gross.
In the report, Lockheimer said there are no real technical or product reasons for iMessage's lock-in and urged Apple to join with the rest of the mobile industry. Google has tried numerous proprietary messaging platforms over the years, including Allo and Hangouts, but none have gained the kind of traction Apple's iMessage has.
For its part, Google has recently updated its own Messages app to support iMessage interactions such as like and laugh. Previously, reactions would result in annoying texts repeating the message someone liked and cluttering up the conversation, but under the new system, emoji appear as they do on an iPhone.
Google also recently shifted to RCS (rich communication services) for Messages, which allows for many of the benefits of iMessage but without locking to a single device. Similar to SMS, it's a more universal system supported by carriers.
Public shaming aside, the iMessage platform is unlikely to change anytime soon. As evidenced by the Journal report, the system is working as intended and Apple has no reason to change it. If anything, we're likely to see further lock-in as Apple expands its wearable catalog and leans into augmented reality-based services.