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A huge blow for Android: EU says Apple doesn't need to open up iMessage

The European Commission concluded its investigations, and iMessage isn't popular enough to be opened up to others.

Published onFebruary 13, 2024

iMessage on iPhone 15 Pro max
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
  • The European Commission has concluded its investigation into Apple’s iMessage and Microsoft’s Bing, Edge, and Advertising services.
  • The companies are not being designated as gatekeepers for these core platform services under the Digital Markets Act, meaning they won’t be required to comply with strict interoperability rules.
  • As a result, Apple need not open up iMessage in the EU, although the company preemptively announced RCS support coming to the iOS Messages app.

Apple’s iMessage was under investigation by the European Commission to determine if the service fell under antitrust regulations envisaged through the Digital Markets Act (DMA). There were rumors that the EU was leaning towards exempting iMessage from these antitrust rules. Today, the European Commission has formally announced that it has not designated Apple’s iMessage and Microsoft’s Bing, Edge, and Advertising services as gatekeepers of core platform services under the DMA, meaning they won’t need to be opened up to competitors.

As the European Commission announced through a press release (h/t TheVerge), Apple and Microsoft are not being designated as “gatekeepers” for core platform services such as iMessage, Bing, Edge, and Microsoft Advertising. The decisions conclude the Commission’s investigations, so both Microsoft and Apple can rest easy to this extent. However, the Commission notes that this does not affect their designation of “gatekeeper” for their other core platform services. The previous decision continues to affect Apple’s App Store, Safari, iOS, and Microsoft’s Windows, while an investigation into iPadOS is ongoing.

The DMA comes into force in the EU on March 7, 2024. Under this legislation, core platform services run by gatekeepers, such as the App Store, Safari, and iOS, will have to comply with several new obligations, including making the platform interoperable with third-party services. Apple announced sweeping changes for the EU (only) that comply with the terms set out in the DMA, though critics have been unhappy with the measures, terming them as “malicious compliance” in some instances.

Before this decision, Apple announced that RCS support is coming to the Messages app on iOS, where it will work alongside iMessage. Had the EU ruled otherwise, Apple would have been forced to open iMessage to others and allow interoperability with Android, possibly ending the “blue bubble vs green bubble” texting wars. For now, the end is not in sight.

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