EU ruling says Apple doesn’t need to add RCS support to iMessage

If you were anxiously awaiting the European Union (EU) to force Apple to support RCS messages in iMessage, it looks like that won’t happen any time soon. The European Commission Wednesday announced the list of gatekeepers covered by the bloc’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) law, and Apple’s Messages app is not a gateway service.

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This was revealed in a report earlier this week Apple has protested the gatekeeper status for iMessage. Similarly, Microsoft defended Bing against its role as a gatekeeper. Now that the EU has announced the first round of gatekeeper companies and gatekeeper services, we know that the iMessage platform is exempt.

The EU will investigate Apples claims and provide a final answer within five months. The same goes for Bing. According to the EU schedule, new gatekeepers will be appointed in February 2024.

The official gatekeepers of the EU: Companies and services

The DMA law is supposed to protect users and businesses from big tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Google (Alphabet), Microsoft, Meta and others. The EU wants to ensure that certain digital services are more open, such as operating systems and digital stores. And that chat apps like iMessage work with competing services. Like Google’s RCS messaging system.

The following chart shows that the EU has appointed six companies as gatekeepers according to the DMA: Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta and Microsoft. But for now, not all of their services will be considered gatekeepers. The EU has outlined 22 core services that qualify as gatekeepers.

The iMessage exemption explained

iMessage is not among the services listed by the EU, but Apple’s App Store, Safari browser, and iOS operating system are. In addition, the EU is looking at iPadOS as it could also be a gatekeeper in the region. It will have an answer for the iPad operating system within twelve months.

As far as chat apps go, only Meta’s WhatsApp and Messenger are on the gatekeeper list.

The iMessage designation is not final. The Commission has launched an investigation to see whether four additional services qualify as gatekeepers. One of them is iMessage. The other three are Bing, Microsoft Edge, and Microsoft Advertising.

The EU also explained that Gmail, Outlook and the Samsung internet browser do not meet the thresholds for being designated as gatekeepers:

Alphabet, Microsoft and Samsung have provided sufficiently substantiated arguments showing that these services do not qualify as gateways for the respective core platform services. Therefore, the Commission has decided not to classify Gmail, and Samsung Internet Browser as core platform services. It follows that Samsung has not been designated as a gatekeeper with respect to any core platform service.

What happens now?

The gatekeepers on the list have six months to make changes to the services on the list so that they comply with DMA rules. That could mean Apple opening up the App Store to third-party payment systems. And allowing third-party app stores and app sideloading iPhone in the EU.

Companies that do not comply risk fines of up to 10% of their worldwide turnover. For repeated violations, the fine is up to 20%.

The gatekeeper list will be dynamic as the EU can add and remove companies and services. These are the criteria to become a gatekeeper:

(i) when the company achieves a certain annual turnover in the European Economic Area and offers a core platform service in at least three EU Member States;

(ii) when the Company provides a core platform service to more than 45 million monthly active end-users based or established in the EU and to more than 10,000 annual active business users based in the EU;

(iii) if the company met the second criterion during the past three years.

It will be interesting to see if Apple addresses the DMA in any way during or after the DMA iPhone 15 event. Apple will need to make changes to iOS 17 to comply with gatekeeper status in Europe.

The mail According to the EU ruling, Apple does not need to add RCS support to iMessage appeared first on BGR.

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