Is an iMessage Subscription Apple’s Eventual RCS Compromise?

Omar Zahran
7 min readSep 16, 2022

Apple has doubled down on its rejection of Google’s texting initiative, leading to questioning if the tech giant will ever take the evolution of messaging into its own hands

At a recent conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked a question. The question was a simple one that many people (myself included) have wondered. The audience member asked if Apple had any plans to adopt RCS (Rich Communication Services) so that he could send high-quality videos to his mother. Tim Cook’s response? Buy her an iPhone. The joke got a laugh prompting Cook to say that it was simply not a feature for which he hears iPhone users requesting.

Many Apple defenders have insisted that this is the right stance for Apple to take, that they are a business and interoperability should not a concern as a market leader. Detractors will often use a greater good argument, that messaging has evolved and that Apple clinging to SMS is stifling progress. Regardless of your stance, the reality is that Apple has no intention of adopting RCS anytime soon. But where does this leave Android users in the long run, particularly in the United States where the iPhone and texting dominate? It might be time to consider a subscription model for iMessage on Android.

Recurring Revenue is King

Over the last few years, it has become evident that Apple is realizing that it can no longer only rely on hardware sales. The company is realizing that the iPhone upgrade cycle (its bread and butter) is being elongated by longer phone lease agreements and people keeping the same phone for longer. The answer to this has of course been to double down on services that provide recurring revenue, and Apple has done that. In the last few years, it has rolled out Apple Music, Apple Fitness+, Apple One, and Apple TV+. These services keep money coming in from Apple users even if they are not buying any devices.

Apple is of course a for-profit company that is always looking for new and inventive ways to make money. Why wouldn’t it add a premium messaging service to that list? iMessage as an app or entity is a…