Apple to Argue iMessage Not Subject to Rival App Integration in EU

Apple has argued that its flagship service, iMessage, is not popular enough to be designated as a “gatekeeper” under the European Union’s forthcoming Digital Markets Act (DMA). This legislation, aimed at curbing Big Tech’s power, will set new responsibilities for tech platforms, including data sharing and interoperability with rival apps, reports The Financial Times.

The battle comes ahead of the anticipated Wednesday publication where the first list of services governed by the DMA will be revealed. To be classified under these rules, platforms must achieve an annual turnover exceeding €7.5bn, a market cap surpassing €75bn, and have 45 million active monthly users within the EU. However, the EU retains some discretion over designations beyond these criteria.

Sources familiar with the situation reported that Apple will argue iMessage doesn’t meet the user threshold for the rules. Therefore, it shouldn’t have to meet obligations like integrating with competing apps such as Meta’s WhatsApp.

Despite being built into all iPhones, iPads, and Macs, and global user estimations nearing 1 billion, Apple hasn’t released specific user numbers for several years. The forthcoming decision is predicted to centre around how both the EU and Apple define iMessage’s operational market.

Analysts and insiders believe that the European Commission’s decision to include or exclude iMessage and Microsoft’s Bing from the DMA’s final list remains under deliberation. A potential probe could be launched to ascertain if these services should be subject to DMA’s new stipulations.

“The DMA will bring new competition to digital markets in Europe and now it is up to the commission to make it work,” noted Andreas Schwab, the Member of the European Parliament who led the negotiation of the rules.

Notably, this isn’t the inaugural instance of tech firms challenging the European Commission over digital regulations. For instance, Zalando and Amazon have previously taken legal action against the commission in relation to the Digital Services Act.

The DMA’s implementation forms part of a broader, ongoing process, set to be fully operational by next spring. Given the stakes, the commission is already preparing for potential legal disputes in the EU courts located in Luxembourg.

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