The European Commission has until early 2024 to decide whether iMessage will become a subject of the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Google, Vodafone and Orange are now trying to influence that inquiry. According to them, there are good reasons to include Apple’s messaging service in the legislation.
All services covered by the Digital Markets Act (DMA) will have stricter rules to combat unfair competitive practices. The legislation goes into effect in March 2024. From then on, it will no longer be permissible to keep the system inaccessible to third parties, nor may proprietary users be favoured.
Android users are treated differently by iMessage
When the European Commission designated the services to follow the law, the situation for iMessage, Bing and iPadOS was still unclear. In a letter, executives from Google, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Orange ask that Apple’s messaging service be included. The letter has not been published publicly but was seen by the Financial Times.
They argue that Apple is favouring its own users. In the letter, the executives speak of “enriched” messages. By this, they refer to the different colour chat messages sent by Android users get. Instead of blue, messages from Android users with a green colour are marked as deviant. The messaging service would additionally reduce the quality of messages and photos for Android users.
Apple discussed the situation before
Lawyers and Apple executives previously gave the EU reasons why the DMA should not cover iMessage. Reasons include that users do not pay to use iMessage and that the products can also be used without ever opening the messaging service.
The EU and the letter writers are struggling however with the pre-installation on Apple devices. Regulators describe the messaging service as “an important element of Apple’s ecosystem expansion,” making it relevant to fair competition laws. The letter writers agree with the thinking. “iMessage as an important connection between business users and their customers is without question justification for Apple’s designation as a gatekeeper for its iMessage service.”