The iMessage messaging service could be excluded from the definition of a gatekeeper platform, relieving Apple of the interoperability obligation.
Sources cited by Bloomberg indicate that the European Commission may decide not to consider iOS iMessage as one gatekeeper platforman outcome that would thus free Apple from the obligation to make the app interoperable with competing messaging platforms.
Several companies including Google, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Orange have expressed requests to evaluate Apple’s messaging application, with the aim of including the service in the list of “market watchdogs” of the Digital Markets Act, but an initial investigation seems to resolve itself with an outcome in favor of Cupertino.
Lack of requirements
The Digital Markets Act European (DMA) is the regulation that regulates the limits of the platforms that can exercise control over the digital market.
These platforms, if actually qualified, are identified as “gatekeepers”.
Becoming a gatekeeper involves complying with certain obligations.
Regarding messaging applications, the DMA states that if a platform qualifies as a gatekeeper, it must be surrendered interoperable with competing platforms.
For example, a user of Telegram (which is not a gatekeeper platform) should be able to communicate with a user who uses WhatsApp (which is).
With the first designations in September, the European Commission launched an investigation with a deadline of February 2024 to determine whether Apple’s iMessage app is indeed a gatekeeper platform, despite currently falling short of the threshold of 45 million monthly active users in the EU set by the DMA.
It would appear that Apple will therefore be cleared of DMA obligations regarding iMessage, pending a decision on iPadOS, which is the subject of a separate investigation, along with the Safari browser and the App Store platform.
Apple’s recent choice to integrate the RCS protocol used in Android into the Messages app from 2024 may have had some influence on the verdict.
Thanks to this possibility, Android users will be able to exchanging “enriched” messages (such as high-resolution photos, reading receipts, or location sharing) with groups of users who use the Messages app on iOS.
Additional investigations aimed at assessing compliance with DMA regulations are currently underway for Microsoft’s Bing, Edge and Microsoft Advertising and are expected to conclude by February 2024.
It should be remembered that, despite the entry into force of the DMA, the actual obligations subject to sanctions will be applied starting from March of the following year.
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