Tim Cook says “buy your mom an iPhone”, instead of Apple implementing RCS

During his Code Conference 2022 appearance, Tim Cook, alongside Jony Ive and Laurene Powell Jobs, responded to a question from an audience member regarding RCS by saying that users have not asked Apple for it. However, when the audience member did ask for RCS, so that he could send high-quality videos to his mother on Android, Cook told him to buy his mom an iPhone.

Android RCS

Apple has good reasons to not implement RCS

It was a snarky response to a genuine question, but when you think about it, there are good reasons for Apple to not put any energy into implementing RCS. Here are a few reasons why we think so:

  • RCS implementation is all over the place. While Google’s implementation of RCS via Jibe is perhaps the most popular one, it is not interoperable even with other RCS implementations by carriers like AT&T in the United States. AT&T users can only send RCS messages to other AT&T users and this applies to a few other carriers too.
  • Security is not a given with RCS. Google’s end-to-end encryption is only implemented for customers that use its implementation, so there is a likely chance that others may not have the same security.
  • Talking about security, Google’s end-to-end encryption for RCS only works for one-on-one chats. It does not work for group chats. This feature will ship later this year.
  • Google’s track record with messaging apps is dodgy. Not only has Google released countless messaging apps, just to move on to newer ones, but it also has faced issues with reliability and spam on RCS. When privacy concerns are added to the mix, it becomes a lot more difficult to trust a messaging solution by Google, compared to a messaging solution by Apple.
  • RCS ads. Many users have reported issues with ad spam in Google Messages.
  • As a fallback, even RCS relies on SMS, just like iMessage. 

When you think of all the above issues, what incentive does Apple have to add support for it, when it already has a much superior messaging service that is end-to-end encrypted, secure, reliable, and works across all its platforms. Instead of spending more money on marketing RCS, Google needs to put in more effort to make RCS as good as iMessage.

It makes more sense for users to install alternative cross-platform messaging apps like Messenger, WhatsApp, Signal, and Telegram, amongst countless many other options. I’d go on to say that it makes more sense for Apple to release iMessage for Android, instead of implementing RCS support in its current state. 

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