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Green vs Blue (Bubble Edition)
A soapbox rant
The United States has been taken over by Apple fanboys. It’s an embarrassment, even more so because it’s often coming from those who would normally be least likely to take the side of a trillion-dollar multinational corporation. Yes, I’m talking about the green vs. blue bubble argument.
Before the smartphone, every phone came with a text message app that sent messages via SMS, or short messaging service. These were simply called “texts”. A cell phone user could send a text to a cell phone user on any network. However, the technology was limited. Only short messages devoid of pictures or other multimedia could be sent. To send one of these texts a user also had to have an active phone plan, as texts were sent over cell networks. The SMS technology eventually evolved into MMS but was still fairly basic.
Fast forward to today, and cell phone technology has advanced to the point where it would be hard to function without a smartphone. Everybody has one. And the dominant smartphone in America, by far, is the iPhone. All iPhones come with the messaging app iMessage installed on the phone. Contrary to popular belief, this is not exclusively a text messaging app in the traditional sense of the word. While iMessage can send an SMS text, if the message is between two iPhones, it instead sends a small data packet. These data packets have a lot of advantages over traditional SMS messages. Messages can include photos, videos, emojis, and reactions. The iMessage software allows people to request read receipts and see when someone else is typing. Users can be added and removed from group threads. These messages can also be sent over Wi-Fi, so a user doesn’t need to have an active cell network connection.
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The catch, however, is that everyone involved in a conversation has to have an iPhone for these extra functions to work. If one person in the conversation has any phone other than the iPhone, then iMessage will revert to sending SMS/MMS messages. This upsets people. Apple fanboys have started bullying non-iPhone users to buy iPhones.
Some bullying accusations have come from admittedly biased sources, such as the website Android Authority and Google itself. But the stigma is real. Cosmopolitan Magazine ran an article titled, “Bad News: Bachelor Nation’s Mike Johnson Is an Android Guy.” Other journalists have written about being left out of text threads. Some iPhone users refuse to date Android users. Seem crazy? This dating preference is not limited to walking stereotypes that live in Brooklyn. This phenomenon has become fodder for comedy shows as well. Take a look at these (hilarious) videos:
Right now I’m sure some of you are saying this is unfair. That preferring to use iMessage does not make you an Apple fanboy. And yes, preferring to use iMessage does not make you an Apple fanboy. iMessage is a great product. However, getting upset at non-iPhone users does make you an Apple fanboy. Excluding non-iPhone users does. Directing your anger not at Apple but at consumers who buy other products, makes you a fanboy.
That iMessage only works on iPhones is not a bug. It’s a feature. Apple wants you to dislike non-iPhone users. It is one of the only messaging apps ever made that is not cross-platform compatible (remember BBMs?). That’s why the green bubbles violate Apple’s own standards for color contrast. That’s why one Apple executive said, “iMessage on Android would simply serve to remove [an] obstacle to iPhone families giving their kids Android phones.” Many non-iPhone users would love to have iMessage on their phone, but Apple will not let them.
Although brand loyalty is terribly misguided (you feel loyal to a company? Really?), people can do what they want. Making fun of other people’s choice of brands is also fine. You bet I’m ragging anyone that shows up to my house drinking RC Cola. But, and here’s the difference, I still let them come in. I drive Japanese cars, but I will still ride in my friend’s GMC. It’s unthinkable that I would exclude anyone for choosing a different brand than me. My first smartphone was a Windows Phone (shut up). When I decided to migrate to a different company, Android was the logical choice. I was broke, and my Moto X (shut up again) was way cheaper than any other flagship phone. I already used Google for my search, email, and half a dozen other functions. It made sense. Other people chose the iPhone for whatever reasons. And that’s fine! Let people have their preferences.
Also, of all companies to be a fanboy for, Apple? This is not the local hardware store on the corner. This is a company that charges $1,000 for a computer stand, not a computer. They will, however, charge you $50,000 for a computer as well. It’s a company with an egomaniacal founder whose brilliance was only overshadowed by his efforts to ignore and disregard anyone who might be an inconvenience, from doctors to his own child. This is a company that deliberately slowed down older models of its flagship product to get consumers to upgrade. I don’t hate Apple. I’m unbelievably impressed with what they have accomplished and view them as an important vehicle for American soft power. I’m just honestly bewildered that Apple, of all businesses, would develop a fanbase so dogmatic they would insist that others buy from the same company.
So, and I cannot stress this enough, if you buy an upmarket product from a corporation that:
Is the most valuable company the world has ever seen
Has admitted to damaging its own products to get consumers to buy new versions
Is deliberately withholding a piece of free software from other platforms
Wants its users to have a bad experience when interacting with those that aren’t users
And your response is to get mad at people who bought a rival product? Then you are a fanboy.
If you are an Apple fanboy, own it. Buy a phone cover (the only purpose of which is to protect your phone) that has a giant hole in the middle so you can proudly display the status-raising piece of fruit on the back. Go to an Apple store and worship at the house of Jobs. Keep on browbeating those around you to get with the program.
If you don’t want to be an Apple fanboy, let it go. Make the joke about green texts and move on. Recognize that there are many, many messaging apps that provide all functionality that iMessage has, and use one. There’s even one app that has more active users than iMessage (WhatsApp).
Or just deal with green bubbles.