The Apple Dilemma: A Disruptive App Takes on Messaging Control

By using the new app called Beeper Mini, Ben Black, 25, was able to join an Apple’s messaging service called iMessage with his Android device. Since it was launched on Dec. 5, the app quickly became a problem for Apple as it gave Android devices access to their iPhone-only service.

Apple claimed that Beeper Mini created a security and privacy risk, but Beeper Mini found ways to continue its operation and Apple went on to block it. The Justice Department is currently investigating whether Apple has used its market dominance to block competition and force consumers to spend more on iPhones.

The Federal Trade Commission will also scrutinize “dominant” players and investigate them for not allowing interoperability between services. It’s not yet clear how worried Apple is about the situation, but their response has the potential to have a huge impact on how messaging works.

Protecting iMessage has been a strategy at Apple for a decade and the company has resisted calls to make it workable on competitors’ devices. Last year, CEO Tim Cook encouraged iPhone owners to buy iPhones for friends and family members as a solution to the green text messages.

Beeper found a different approach to messaging by integrating most messaging services, except iMessage. They had to route messages through Mac computers to integrate iMessage, which was less secure and delayed messages.

A teenager in Pennsylvania found an alternative solution to integrate iMessage and was hired by Beeper to help solve their iMessage problem. The two companies have been in a back-and-forth battle, with Apple making changes to iMessage to block Beeper and Beeper finding workarounds each time.

Apple claims that they will continue updating iMessage as Beeper did not keep its messages encrypted, but Beeper disagrees and has invited Apple and cybersecurity experts to review their software code. Digital privacy expert Matthew Green warned that an extended fight between the two companies could introduce vulnerabilities that criminals could exploit.

Beeper’s CEO has reached out to Apple’s CEO but has not received a response, and is now encouraging both companies to make it work for the good of the chat world.


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