Green texts in iMessages nudges teens to use iPhones

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The color-coding of Apple’s SMS connections in green in iMessage plays a role along with another feature in getting teens to switch from Android to iPhone, the report claims, with pressure to align with peers touting moves to turn their messages blue.

The use of green and blue colors to show whether a message is being sent to a user through iMessage or through other devices has become more than a simple comfort indicator for users. It is also a form of status indicator, as it shows that the user not only owns an iPhone but can also take advantage of features on the platform that others cannot.

In a profile of the color signal system by The Wall Street JournalTeens and students explain how not having an iPhone and seeing green messages is negative for them.

Adele Luitz, a student from Michigan, told the report that she first noticed the difference in the condition when she tried an Android device, which prompted a member of her text group to ask, “Who’s green?” Then Lowtiz found that group chats weren’t working as smoothly as they did when I used the iPhone, in addition to causing problems for FaceTime calls and apps used to find friends.

“In my college circle, and in high school that transitioned to college, most people own iPhones and use a lot of these kinds of iPhone-specific features,” Lowtiz said. Calculating that Apple had effectively created a social network with its peculiarities, she felt there was “some kind of pressure to get back into that”.

Lowtiz had to use an Android device as part of a paid research study, but was soon back on the iPhone soon after. “There is a lot within the Apple network for me to switch,” she said. One of her friends was reportedly relieved to be back in ‘blue again’.

Miles Franklin of the University of Florida discovered that he missed rounds of a game in high school, which he decided was due to him being an avid Android user. In 2020, he’s switched over to the iPhone, in part because of his preference for creating TikTok videos.

Jocelyn Maher, a master’s student in New York, said she was made fun of by her friends and younger sister when dating, if the potential suitor used Android. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, his texts are green, and my sister is literally gone, this is disgusting,'” Maher said.

Grace Fang of Wellesley College in Massachusetts has also seen social dynamics come into play regarding iPhones, with Android users apologizing for their devices and a lack of iMessage.

“I don’t know if it’s propaganda from Apple or just something that happens in a tribal versus an outside group, but people don’t seem to like green text bubbles very much and they seem to have a deep negative reaction to it,” she said.

Apple is clearly well aware that iMessage is a serious draw for its users, appearing in the Epic-Apple trial as part of a series of claims that have been used to lock users into its ecosystem. Epic pointed to statements made by Apple’s top management that the company had blocked the creation of an Android version of iMessage.

While Apple revealed rumors of iMessage heading to Android in mid-2016, claims persisted, including one later that year confirming that mockups were created for a customer using Google’s Material Design.

In 2018, Scott Forstell, the former head of iOS development, tried to get carriers to adopt the text messaging standard that shares features with iMessage, a proposal that hasn’t progressed much.


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