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Apple says iMessage isn't popular enough to play nice with other apps

Apple apparently says iMessage has less than 45 million monthly active users in the EU and therefore isn't a gatekeeper.

Published onSeptember 5, 2023

Apple iPhone 14 safari imessage
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • Apple has reportedly claimed that iMessage isn’t popular enough to be a gatekeeper platform.
  • The company apparently said iMessage was under the threshold for this designation.
  • EU regulations would see gatekeeper platforms being forced to open up to rivals.

The European Union (EU) is taking aim at big tech companies with the Digital Markets Act. Part of the legislation will see specific platforms designated as “gatekeepers,” which means they’ll be forced to open up to rival services and apps.

But it turns out Apple is arguing against the inclusion of iMessage as a gatekeeper service, the Financial Times reports, citing two sources familiar with the issue. The company is apparently arguing that iMessage isn’t popular enough in the EU to justify the designation.

The Digital Markets Act defines gatekeeper platforms as having an annual turnover above €7.5 billion (~$), a market cap of more than €75 billion (~$), and more than 45 million monthly active users in the EU.

However, Apple is apparently claiming that iMessage doesn’t have more than 45 million monthly active users in the bloc. Therefore, it argued that the messaging platform shouldn’t be designated as a gatekeeper service and doesn’t need to open up to rival apps like WhatsApp.

Does Apple’s reason hold water?

Apple’s iOS reportedly accounts for roughly a third of the European market, which isn’t exactly a small slice of the pie. The GSMA reported in 2021 that 474 million Europeans were subscribed to mobile plans. However, WhatsApp is more popular in the EU than in the US. So we’d be keen to see iMessage’s monthly active users in the region in light of these factors.

Do you think iMessage should be a gatekeeper platform?

2756 votes

In saying so, a failure to deem iMessage a gatekeeper could potentially have major effects in the US. The app has a stranglehold on the US market and doesn’t play nicely with Android phones, and this is thought to be a significant reason why iPhones dominate among younger users.

The Financial Times reports that the EU is still in discussions over whether to include iMessage and Microsoft Bing on the list of gatekeeper platforms. Microsoft is also reportedly arguing against Bing being defined as a gatekeeper, citing a claimed market share of 3%. The list is due to be published on Wednesday (September 6).

We’ve contacted Apple to clarify its stance and to find out how many monthly active iMessage users it has in the European Union. We’ll update the article if/when the company gets back to us.

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