Apple isn’t the first tech company to develop a desirable chat tool. I recall how indispensable I once found AOL Instant Messenger, Blackberry and Bloomberg messaging services. But Apple’s cache and clever strategy allows them to take it a step further. Internal records made public as part of the Epic Games Inc. lawsuit revealed that Apple made a calculated decision to keep iMessage as an exclusive iPhone feature. Per an article in the WSJ:
From the beginning, Apple got creative in its protection of iMessage’s exclusivity. It didn’t ban the exchange of traditional text messages with Android users but instead branded those messages with a different color; when an Android user is part of a group chat, the iPhone users see green bubbles rather than blue. It also withheld certain features. There is no dot-dot-dot icon to demonstrate that a non-iPhone user is typing, for example, and an iMessage heart or thumbs-up annotation has long conveyed to Android users as text instead of images.
Apple, recognized as a luxury product, creates early brand habits for teenagers and colleges students. Preferring to conform to social pressures and associate with the Apple brand, most teens (87% according to a study cited) choose an iPhone over every other device. The ostracism that comes with a green text is sufficient motivation.