It’s Kind of Cheesy Being Green

Excerpt from this article:

…If you search Twitter for the words “green bubbles” you’ll find very consistent results. People hate green bubbles… I’ve been performing that same Twitter search every few days and there’s usually someone new complaining. The modern world is against green bubbles. What those tweets are referring to is how iPhones deal with text messages. When an iPhone texts an iPhone… via Apple’s iMessage service, the outgoing text appears in calm blue… But when an iPhone texts with a non-iPhone, the outgoing messages appears with a vibrant—some might say harsh—green background. Judging by the hatred on Twitter this anti-green bubble phenomenon is shared broadly by all kinds of people.

This spontaneous anti-green-bubble brigade is an interesting example of how sometimes very subtle product decisions in technology influence the way culture works. Apple uses a soothing, on-brand blue for messages in its own texting platform, and a green akin to that of the Android robot logo for people texting from outside its ecosystem (as people have pointed out on Twitter, iPhone texts were default green in days before iMessage—but it was shaded and more pleasant to the eye; somewhere along the line things got flat and mean).

There are all sorts of reasons for them to use different colors. (iMessage texts are seen as data, not charged on a per-text basis, and so the different colors allow people to register how much a given conversation will cost—useful!) However, one result of that decision is that a goofy class war is playing out over digital bubble colors. Their decision has observable social consequences.

…It’s pretty fair to assume that Apple knows exactly how those green bubbles are perceived. For example, look at the marketing on its website:

…If I worked at Apple I’d be pretty psyched with this reaction. After all, what is a more powerful brand amplifier than social pressure? If people who converse in green bubbles start to feel relatively poor, or socially inferior, because they chose to use a less-expensive pocket supercomputer than those made by Apple, that could lead to iPhone sales. Ugly green bubbles = $$$$$ and promotions.

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