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Technology Stocks : Apple Tankwatch
AAPL 214.24+0.5%Jun 13 4:00 PM EDT

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From: Thomas M.4/5/2024 11:19:33 AM
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Jon Koplik

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'Green bubble shaming' at play in DOJ suit against Apple

Michael Anderson, a tech consultant in San Francisco, considers himself an unapologetic Android user. It's something that would come up quite a bit in his love life.

When he was single and using dating apps, discussing the color of his messages with potential dates who had iPhones became a familiar and irksome ritual.

"We get off the app and take the big step of getting into the text messages, and the first text I would get, not all the time, but certainly numerous times was, 'Oh, your bubble,'" said 33-year-old Anderson, referring to the green bubble texts that iPhone users see when messaging his Android.

For some singles, Anderson points out, green bubbles are a deal breaker.

"I have heard of friends who actually got ghosted because of that," he said. "And you wouldn't want to go on a date with those type of people anyway, but it's really pervasive."

Anderson is now engaged. His fiancée is, despite it all, an iPhone user.

As anyone who has experienced the blue-green divide knows, the bubble culture wars involve more than just a carping over color differences.

When someone with an Android texts an iMessage user, the quality of photos and videos is shoddy; you can't do live location tracking; you can't react to texts the same way; those suspense-building bouncing ellipses indicating someone is writing do not exist; and the conversation is less secure. To top it off, green bubbles lead to mockery.

Some have dubbed this phenomenon "green bubble shaming."

And while it might seem frivolous, the bubble issue became much more serious last week, when it was cited by the Justice Department as an example of how Apple allegedly abuses its power.

DOJ says green bubbles are tied to anti-competitive behavior

U.S. authorities claim Apple deliberately makes texting on iMessage frustrating for Android users in an effort to nudge people to buy iPhones. Apple denies this claim.

The suit cited internal Apple emails showing that top executives at the company knew that allowing for seamless texting to competing devices might make consumers turn away from iPhones

An unnamed senior vice president of software engineering at Apple wrote in a 2013 email that allowing iMessage features to work for iPhone and non-Apple phones alike "would simply serve to remove [an] obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones," according to the government's lawsuit.

Another Apple executive, according to the Justice Department, wrote that "moving iMessage to Android will hurt us more than help us."

This led the Justice Department to allege that "Apple affirmatively undermines the quality of rival smartphones," states to the suit, which adds that the popularity of iPhones was fueled not just by the quality of the product "but because it has made communicating with other smartphones worse."

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npr.org

Tom
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