Watch Tim Cook’s famous ‘Buy your mom an iPhone’ quip that caught the attention of the Justice Department

Cook’s quote came at the 2022 Code Conference, when he was taking questions from the audience as part of a panel moderated by tech journalist Kara Swisher.

Vox Media’s LiQuan Hunt asked Cook whether Apple had plans to improve messaging between the company’s smartphones and Android devices.

In particular, the questioner referenced the “green side of things” — a reference to the green messages that iPhone users get when someone with an Android phone texts them.

At first, Cook denied that there was the demand to make messaging between Androids and iPhones better.

“I don’t hear our users asking that we put a lot of energy on that at this point,” he responded, prompting laughter from the rest of the audience.

But Hunt pressed on. “Not to make it personal, but I can’t send my mom certain videos, or she can’t send me certain videos,” he said.

“Buy your mom an iPhone,” Cook interrupted to more laughter from the crowd before Swisher moved on to another question.

You can watch the full exchange here:

A year and a half later, the latter half of that conversation appears on page 39 of the Department’s complaint against Apple. It’s one of many examples of Apple’s attitude of blocking competition in the smartphone market, according to the DOJ.

“Apple protects its smartphone monopoly by degrading and undermining cross-platform messaging apps and rival smartphones,” the complaint says.

The company has indicated since Cook’s comment that some changes to messaging between Androids and iPhones are coming. Apple is reportedly adding Rich Communication Services to the iPhone later this year. The addition should give non-iMessage users access to features like better photo quality and read receipts.

But the problem is bigger than janky texts between you and your mom, the Department contends.

Apple also has blocked at least one developer from providing encryption of Apple Messages between iPhones and Android — a move that makes everyone using iPhones “less secure than they could otherwise be,” according to the complaint.

Apple told Business Insider that the Department’s case, if successful, would limit its ability to create new technology.

“We believe this lawsuit is wrong on the facts and the law, and we will vigorously defend against it,” the company said in a statement.

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Alex Bitter