Title: Google and Cell Carriers Call for Regulation of Apple’s iMessage under EU’s Digital Markets Act
Subtitle: Debate intensifies over including Apple’s popular messaging service as a “core” service subject to EU regulation[City], [Date] – Google and several cell carriers, including Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, and Orange, are rallying behind a proposal urging the European Union (EU) to classify Apple’s iMessage as a “core” service subject to regulation under the EU’s Digital Markets Act. This move has sparked a heated debate within the tech industry as the EU seeks to crack down on Big Tech “gatekeepers” and their services.
The EU’s Digital Markets Act, aimed at enforcing interoperability, fairness, and privacy demands on dominant tech companies, has already classified Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta, and Microsoft as “gatekeepers.” These companies have been recognized for their role as important intermediaries bridging the gap between businesses and consumers. However, iMessage, Apple’s proprietary messaging service, was not initially included on the list of services to be regulated but is currently under market investigation to determine whether it should be subject to the act.
To be classified as a gatekeeper service under the act, a messaging platform must meet certain criteria, including having over 45 million monthly active EU users, at least 10,000 active EU businesses annually, and meeting certain financial thresholds.
In their letter to the European Commission, Google and the cell carriers argue that iMessage should be regulated due to its limitations for business users. Apple, on the other hand, contends that iMessage is primarily designed for personal consumer communications and should not fall under the purview of the business-centric Digital Markets Act.
The dominance of Facebook products WhatsApp and Messenger in the EU messaging landscape places iMessage on the verge of regulation. Industry experts speculate that Google’s interest in regulating iMessage in the EU may be a strategic move to gain leverage and push for Apple to open up in the US as well.
iMessage’s cultural impact in the US cannot be overlooked, with a large portion of teenagers using iPhones, and even a dedicated song highlighting its exclusive features. In response, Google has launched a campaign called “get the message,” advocating for Apple to adopt a more advanced form of SMS called RCS.
It is important to note that EU regulation, if passed, would only require Apple to open up its services within the EU, not its largest market, the US. The European Commission is expected to reach a decision on whether to regulate iMessage by February 2024, potentially requiring Apple to comply by August that year.
While Google is pushing for regulation, its own history of launching and shutting down multiple messaging apps has impeded its platform-building efforts. This brings into question the motivations behind its bid to target Apple’s messaging service.
As the debate intensifies, the tech world awaits the European Commission’s decision on the future of iMessage in the EU, as it could have far-reaching implications for both Apple and the broader mobile messaging sector.
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