Apple’s iMessage will not be designated as a “core platform service” under the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), the European Commission announced today. The decision means the service will not face strict new obligations, including a requirement to provide interoperability with other messaging services. The commission also decided against designating Microsoft’s Edge browser, Bing search engine and advertising business as core platform services.
“After a thorough assessment of all arguments, taking into account the input of relevant stakeholders and after consulting the Advisory Committee on Digital Markets, the Commission concluded that iMessage, Bing, Edge and Microsoft Advertising do not qualify as gatekeeper services,” it said the EU press release reads, although they meet the quantitative thresholds of a core platform service designation. Both Apple and Microsoft welcomed the Commission’s decision in statements The edge.
The decision is the culmination of a five-month investigation that the Commission launched when it published its list of 22 regulated services last September. Although Apple’s App Store, Safari browser and iOS operating system were identified as core platform services, it withheld a final decision on iMessage until an investigation could be completed. A similar investigation into iPadOS is underway.
Meta has now seen two of its messaging platforms, WhatsApp and delivery boy, which are designated as core platform services under the DMA, and is working to make them interoperable with third-party services. The company recently outlined how WhatsApp’s interoperability will work, explaining how its users will have to opt in to receive notifications from external messaging apps and that those messages will then appear in a separate inbox. Companies that want to work with WhatsApp must sign an agreement with Meta and follow its terms and conditions.
Although iMessage has avoided the compliance burden that comes with the official DMA designation, the period of regulatory review coincided with Apple’s announcement of support for the cross-platform RCS messaging standard on iPhones, which Google has been pushing for . It may be no coincidence that Apple made the RCS announcement on November 16, the deadline for appealing the European Commission’s DMA designation.
Apple has made it clear that it will also support the cross-platform standard alongside iMessage; It does not replace the company’s proprietary messaging service. “[RCS] will work with iMessage, which will continue to be the best, most secure messaging experience for Apple users,” Apple spokeswoman Jacqueline Roy said at the time. The distinction between blue and green bubbles remains, except that green bubbles now indicate messages sent via feature-rich RCS rather than SMS.
Apple’s Safari browser, iOS operating system and App Store will still have to meet the regulation’s most stringent requirements when DMA takes full effect on March 7. Apple recently announced a number of changes it is making to comply with the regulation, including allowing alternative app stores and browser engines other than WebKit.
However, critics have been unhappy with the way Apple complies with the DMA, particularly with a core technology fee that will charge developers €0.50 per download every year, even if they distribute apps in alternative app stores (until the first million downloads). are exempt). Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney called Apple’s plans “hot garbage” and “a new case of malicious compliance,” while Spotify said the new fee was “extortion, pure and simple” and that the compliance plan was “a complete farce.” . .”
Update as of February 13, 7:51 a.m. ET: Added response from Apple and Microsoft.