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Google is now rallying troops in Europe to break iMessage exclusivity

Google and some of the top European carriers want iMessage to comply with the rules of the new Digital Markets Act.

Published onNovember 8, 2023

Apple iMessages on iPhone stock photo 4
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
  • Google and big European telecom companies have reportedly approached the European Commission to make iMessage comply with the Digital Markets Act.
  • In a letter to the regulator, the group argues that iMessage should be designated as a gatekeeper service, forcing it to become interoperable with other messaging apps.

Google and some big European carriers have called upon the European Commission to designate iMessage as a “core platform service.” If this happens, Apple will have to make iMessage cross-compatible with other chat apps like WhatsApp and Google Messages.

According to the Financial Times, Google and telecom companies, including Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, and Orange, have sent a letter to the European Commission claiming that iMessage meets the new Digital Markets Act’s core services criteria. Therefore, it should come under the purview of the act. They suggest consumers would ultimately benefit from iMessage becoming interoperable with other messaging apps.

“Through iMessage, business users are only able to send enriched messages to iOS users and must rely on traditional SMS for all the other end users,” says the letter.

The European regulatory authority is already investigating iMessage as a possible contender for the list of core services that must comply with the DMA. It believes that iMessage indirectly contributes to Apple’s revenue because it’s pre-installed on iPhones and is exclusive to Apple users.

Apple has been able to prevent iMessage from being subject to the strict rules of the DMA by claiming that its messaging service is not very popular in Europe. According to the company, iMessage does not fulfill the DMA’s requirement of 45 million monthly active users to qualify as a “gatekeeper” service. Apple has also reportedly argued that iMessage should not comply with the DMA because users don’t pay for it directly and can use iPhones without using the service.

In September, the European Commission designated six gatekeepers under the DMA, including Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta, and Microsoft. Services provided by these gatekeepers, like the Google Play Store, Google Maps, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and many more, now come under the rules of the DMA to ensure a fairer business environment.

The EU now has until February to decide the fate of iMessage and confirm if it qualifies as a gatekeeper service. If it does, Apple will have until March 2024 to comply with the DMA’s rules and end the green bubble-blue bubble controversy for good.

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