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NYC Billboard Attacking Apple's iMessage Came From Meta

The high-profile billboard, touted by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, was placed near Times Square.

An iPhone showing Apple's logo, in front of a laptop screen showing Facebook
The battle's heating up.
James Martin/CNET

The "anything you can do, I can do better" back-and-forth between Apple and Facebook parent Meta has made its way to a New York City. This time, it came in the form of a billboard just outside the famous "crossroads of the world" in Times Square. In it, Meta attacked Apple's iMessage, touting its own WhatsApp instead.

Facebook co-founder and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday announced a new billboard above Pennsylvania Station, just south of Times Square and near the famous Broadway area theaters, to attack Apple. His company is taking on the iPhone maker's popular iMessage texting service, contending that Meta's WhatsApp is more trustworthy.

"WhatsApp is far more private and secure than iMessage, with end-to-end encryption that works across both iPhones and Android, including group chats," Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Instagram, the popular photo sharing service his company also owns. He also highlighted other features like disappearing messages, which iMessage doesn't have.

Read more: Apple Is Living Rent Free In Mark Zuckerberg's Head

Meta's new billboard in NYC attacks Apple's iMessage Monday.

Meta

"Protect your personal messages across devices," the billboard said, while poking fun at Apple's famous blue-bubble messaging service. Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The move marked the latest in a series of escalating volleys between the tech titans, which has been building for years. Zuckerberg stepped up his attacks last week, during one of his company's most important events of the year, discussing his plans for the metaverse. The technology, which Zuckerberg is so committed to that he renamed his company to Meta from Facebook, refers to shared virtual worlds we interact with using all manner of devices including virtual reality headsets.

Zuckerberg appears convinced that Apple will be one of his largest competitors, which is notable considering the iPhone maker hasn't yet acknowledged its widely reported plans to offer a headset that bridges computer-generated virtual reality and the real world.

In the meantime, Meta attacked Apple's popular iMessage, which is built into iPhones, iPads and Mac computers, but is not available for Android-powered phones and other devices. Google too has begun a campaign against Apple around iMessage, attempting to pressure the tech giant into building support for RCS -- or, Rich Communication Standard -- which it has been pushing as the next advancement after SMS.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Meta, has already attracted more than 2 billion people who use its service each month. Meanwhile, there are more than 1 billion active iPhones, and Apple is expected to reach 2 billion active iOS devices sometime this year.