Green texts in iMessages inspire teens to use iPhones
Apple’s color coding of SMS communications in green in iMessage plays a role alongside other features in getting teens to switch from Android to iPhone, according to a report, with pressure to fit in with their peers by promoting moves to turn their messages blue.
The use of green and blue to indicate whether a message to a user is sent through iMessage or through other devices has become more than just an indicator of convenience for users. It is also a form of status indicator, showing that the user not only owns a iPhone, but can also use features on the platform that others cannot.
In a profile of the color indication system speak the Wall Street newspaper, teens and college students say not having an iPhone and seeing green messages is apparently negative for them.
Michigan student Adele Lowitz told the report she first noticed the difference in status when she experimented with an Android device, prompting a member of her texting group to ask “Who’s green?” Lowtiz then found out that group chats didn’t work as smoothly as when she was using an iPhone, and caused problems for FaceTime calls and for apps used to find friends.
“Most of the people around me in college and high school have iPhones and use a lot of these kinds of iPhone-specific features,” Lowtiz said. Believing that Apple had indeed created a social network with its features, she felt that there was “a kind of pressure to come back”.
Lowtiz had to use an Android device as part of a paid research study, but was quick to return to iPhone soon after. “There is too much in the Apple network for me to change,” she said. A friend would have been relieved that she was “blue again” when she returned.
Miles Franklin, a senior at the University of Florida, discovered he had missed parts of a game in high school, which he said was due to being an avid Android user. In 2020, he switched to the iPhone, in part because he preferred it for making TikTok videos.
New York masters student Jocelyn Maher said she was laughed at by friends and younger sister when dating, if the potential suitor uses Android. “I was like, Oh my god his lyrics are green,” and my sister literally became Ew, that’s disgusting, ”” Maher said.
Grace Fang of Wellesley College in Massachusetts also saw a social dynamic at play regarding iPhones, with Android users apologizing for their device and not having iMessage.
“I don’t know if this is Apple propaganda or just like an intragroup versus outgroup tribal thing, but people don’t seem to like the green text bubbles too much and seem to have this negative visceral reaction, ” she said.
Apple is apparently well aware that iMessage is a serious draw for its users, as it appears in the Epic-Apple trial as part of a series of complaints it has been used to lock users into its ecosystem. Epic pointed to statements from senior management at Apple that the company blocked the creation of an Android version of iMessage.
While Apple rumors denied of iMessage heading to Android in mid-2016, claims have persisted, with one later in the year claiming that models were created for a customer using Google’s “Material Design”.
In 2018, former head of iOS development Scott Forstall tried to push operators to adopt a texting standard which shared functionality with iMessage, a proposal that did not go very far.