Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday singled out Apple's iMessage mobile messaging service as Facebook's "biggest competitor by far." (via CNBC).
The comments were made to investors during an earnings call for the company's third quarter performance, in which the Facebook CEO admitted the social platform was losing out to iMessage in "important" territories like the U.S., where iPhone sales are highest.
"Our biggest competitor by far is iMessage," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an earnings call on Tuesday with investors, referring to the messaging service built into the iPhone and other Apple products.
"In important countries like the U.S. where the iPhone is strong, Apple bundles iMessage as a default texting app and it's still ahead," he said.
The Facebook chief said the company had identified a shift in the way users are communicating, with many transitioning from publicly shared content to private messaging, thanks to services like Messenger, WhatsApp, and Apple's iMessage.
Zuckerberg also responded to vehement criticism from Apple CEO Tim Cook about companies that use people's personal information as a business model for profit.
"It's worth noting that one of the main reasons people prefer our services, especially WhatsApp, is because of its stronger record on privacy," Zuckerberg said.
"WhatsApp is completely end-to-end encrypted, does not store your messages, and doesn't store the keys to your messages in China or anywhere else. And this is important because if our systems can't see your messages, then that means that governments and bad actors won't be able to access them through us either."
Zuckerberg's reference to China is likely a dig at Apple, which recently transferred its China iCloud services from a hosting location in the United States to servers owned and operated by a state-run Chinese company.
The move means the Chinese government can use its own legal system to ask Apple for users' iCloud data, whereas before the government had to go through the U.S. legal system. Human rights and digital security advocates have questioned whether Apple will be able to maintain and protect its customers' privacy under the new Chinese laws.
During the earnings call, investors learned that Facebook had surpassed analysts' estimates on earnings per share in the third quarter, but had fallen short on revenue and active user projections.