The release of Apple Music to Android may have been a harbinger of much greater things to come. Rumors are flying all over the place now that Apple may bring its encrypted iMessage software to the Android platform.
Zack Whittaker reports for ZDNet:
Apple could soon move more of its apps to Android, which could put encrypted messaging into the hands of the wider mainstream public. Chief executive Tim Cook reportedly told his staff at a company-wide event that Apple may soon bring other apps and services to the rival platform. Cook said that bringing Apple Music to Android in November was "a way of testing the waters for growing its services division through other platforms."
Until Apple Music's debut on the Google Play store last year, Apple's services were almost exclusively for its iPhones, iPads, and Macs, with few exceptions (notably iCloud on Windows). The move to port software to its rivals' platforms could be a boon to Apple, particularly at a time with declining growth in its iPhone division and growing revenues in its software and services unit.
...what many don't realize is that iMessage is encrypted end-to-end, which prevents even Apple from accessing user messages. (There is a known caveat: backed up messages to iCloud are vulnerable to government warrants.)
It's not clear when (or even if) Apple will make the move any time soon. In bringing iMessage out from Apple's exclusivity, it could could open up the encrypted messaging app to as many as one billion Android device owners.
Apple is becoming a services company
I think it's a great idea for Apple to offer iMessage encrypted text messaging to Android users. It will make it possible for Android and iOS users to communicate without the government being able to spy on them, and it will help open the door for Android users to convert to iOS by buying an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch device.
It's very clear now that Apple is moving toward becoming a service company, and this means looking beyond its own iOS and OS X platforms. The company wants to open pathways for users of other operating systems to become part of its ecosystem, and the best way to do that is to put Apple's services onto those platforms.
Giving Android users an iMessage app would go a long way toward accomplishing that, and would potentially bring in hundreds of millions more people into Apple's cloud services. I have many friends who use Android who would probably love the ability to send and receive messages via iMessage.
How will Apple make money from iMessage for Android?
The only thing I'm unclear on about this is how Apple monetizes Android users with iMessage. With Apple Music it's obvious since that service requires a subscription, but iMessage isn't quite the same. I can't imagine Apple ever charging Android users for using it.
But monetizing iMessage may not really matter if the point is to just begin to bring in even more people to Apple's cloud services. And if many Android users start using iMessage, they may like it enough to begin using other revenue-generating services provided by Apple.
We'll have to wait and see how all of this plays out. But it's very clear that things are changing at Apple in terms of how the company sees rival platforms. Stay tuned for more on Apple expanding its services to other operating systems.
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