Apple Support for RCS Was Due to China, Not the EU: Report

Apple’s recent decision to support the upcoming Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging standard in 2024 was not driven but the European Union, but rather it was apparently China.

That’s according to John Gruber’s Daring Fireball, citing his typical “birdies”. Gruber says regulatory pressures from China were the cause for RCS, debunking theories that the European Commission’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) played a role.

This insight comes after the European Commission announced this week that Apple’s iMessage, along with Microsoft’s Bing, Edge, and advertising services, would not be designated as gatekeepers under the DMA, concluding investigations that began in September 2023.

Gruber criticized the assumption that the DMA influenced Apple’s RCS adoption as “lazy thinking,” pointing out that the DMA does not specifically mention RCS. He explained that RCS, essentially an advanced SMS controlled by cellular carriers and lacking encryption, does not align with the DMA’s focus on interoperability among encrypted messaging platforms.

“The little birdies I’ve spoken to all said the same thing: iOS support for RCS is all about China,” Gruber revealed. He further explained that Chinese carriers have long supported RCS, and recent moves by the Chinese government to require new 5G devices to support RCS have placed pressure on Apple. This regulatory push in China starkly contrasts with the European Union’s approach, which has not specifically targeted RCS in its digital market regulations.

Gruber elaborated on the differences between iMessage and RCS, highlighting iMessage’s independence from carrier-based messaging systems and its ability to operate without a phone number, a feature not shared by RCS. He pointed out the technical and operational nuances that make iMessage distinct from traditional SMS and RCS, underscoring the inaccuracy of claims that the DMA’s interoperability requirements could have prompted Apple’s support for RCS.

“Apple would prefer simply to continue ignoring RCS, on the grounds that they want to support neither any new non-E2EE protocols, nor any new carrier-controlled protocols (whether encrypted or not). But when the CCP says device makers must jump to sell their products in China, Apple asks ‘How high?'” Gruber wrote, which looks like he’s tossing Apple under the China bus.

So was it actually China that influenced Apple’s decision to support RCS, and not the EU? So far we have heard of any Apple statements dismissing the rumour, and we know Gruber typically will only write something citing info from his “little birdies”, if it was true for the most part.

P.S. Help support us and independent media here: Buy us a beer, Buy us a coffee, or use our Amazon link to shop.