Apple slammed over Beeper Mini controversy as FCC Commissioner calls for investigation — "Apple’s wider set of exclusionary practices warrant scrutiny by antitrust and competition agencies"

Beeper Mini iMessage on Android
(Image credit: Future / Apple / Android)

Beeper Mini, a smart way of getting iMessage to work on Android devices, has been hitting dead end after dead end with Apple, but a recent appeal from one FCC member might signal an end to Apple’s messaging exclusivity. 

Brendan Carr, a lawyer and member of the Federal Communications Commission since 2017, has recently appealed to the Commission and subsequently posted it on X for public support. In this video, he states, “Apple’s wider set of exclusionary practices warrant scrutiny by antitrust and competition agencies.”

His argument consists of a handful of major points, including an inability to compete with Apple and a lack of accessibility. Carr states, “When you are on an iPhone, they (Apple) are necessarily degrading the text messaging service.“ He further claims that image quality is worse going from an Apple to an Android device and that the green bubble Apple uses to denote texts from non-Apple devices is an accessibility concern as it’s harder to differentiate the background from the foreground. 

It’s important to note that the degradation of quality is mostly down to pixel density differences in devices and the drawbacks of SMS messaging. With iMessage, Apple has developed its own system to get around the flaws of typical messaging systems, and Android users want in. 

Where does Beeper Mini Come in? — iMore’s take

Apple made changes to its iMessage service to block Beeper Mini from being able to access, and subsequently profit from, its messaging service. Carr states “I think the FCC should investigate Apple’s conduct there to see if it complies with the FCC’S part 14 rules.”

Those provisions specifically flag accessibility concerns that he claims Beeper Mini addresses. By not giving Android users the ability to have better, higher resolution images and photo location information, Carr believes Apple isn’t supporting accessibility enough on its platform. The mentions of competition seem mostly superfluous to Carr’s argument as it doesn’t seem to encourage competition by forcing Apple to give away access to iMessage, a service it built and maintains. It doesn’t seem conducive to a competitive environment to let a company innovate, and then not let it see the fruits of those innovations. 

The green bubble is intended as an indicator that the user does not have access to iMessage features as their device doesn’t support it, but the color of the bubble could indeed be an accessibility concern. However, Beeper Mini isn’t the only way to fix this concern, and, as pointed out by a comment on the original video, Apple does have its own accessibility features on iMessage. These settings don’t fully address Carr’s initial concerns, but he does drop the green bubble argument pretty quickly afterward. As this is still a developing story, no confirmation of an investigation has been made yet. 

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James Bentley

James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person. 

With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer. 

As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.

  • Lestat1886
    This anticompetitive legislation mindset is going nowhere… why would Apple be obliged to offer its services on other platforms ? Soon, they will make iOS compatible with android phones…