According to a Nov. 8 Financial Times report, Google and major European telecommunications companies are urging the European Union to designate Apple’s iMessage as a “core platform service” under the bloc’s new Digital Markets Act (DMA), which would require the messaging app to be interoperable with rival services.
In a letter to EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, the companies argued that iMessage meets the criteria for classification as a core platform service, given that it has well over 10,000 monthly active business users globally. While Apple contends that iMessage should not fall under the DMA because it does not charge a fee for the service, the letter states that iMessage contributes to Apple’s revenues indirectly since the pre-installed app helps drive sales of the company’s devices.
Google and the EU would designate iMessage as a core platform service, meaning that Apple would have to open up the messaging app to interoperate with non-Apple devices.
Currently, iPhone users lose functionality like high-quality photo and video sharing when messaging non-iPhone users since the conversations revert to SMS. The companies claim that an interoperable iMessage would benefit consumers and businesses by enabling enriched messaging features for all users, not just Apple device owners.
Apple responded that iMessage was designed for personal communications between friends and family. The company stated that consumers have many messaging apps, demonstrating how easy it is to switch between services.
The DMA, which takes effect in May 2023, aims to rein in the power of Big Tech companies like Apple.
It applies to major platforms like Apple, which meet thresholds like €7.5 billion in annual European turnover and 45 million monthly EU users. The European Commission has the discretion to designate core platform services even if they fall below these thresholds, as appears to be the case with iMessage.
The commission is investigating whether to include iMessage in the list of core platform services. A decision is expected by February 2023. Apple will have the opportunity to respond to the arguments made by Google and the telecom providers as part of the process.
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