Apple's iMessage avoids EU regulation after a prolonged investigation and won't be forced to work with WhatsApp and others

iPhone 14 with messages app open being held in front of green wall
(Image credit: John-Anthony Disotto)

Following months of investigation, the European Commission has confirmed that it will not designate Apple's iMessage instant messaging platform as a gatekeeper, saving it from regulation that would require it to be opened up to third parties.

The commission had been discussing whether iMessage met the minimum threshold to be called a gatekeeper in the messaging space, with Microsoft's Bing also under investigation for its place in the search market. Microsoft's Edge browser and advertising business was also under investigation.

Following the news that WhatsApp was already working on interoperability that would have allowed iMessages to be sent and received via its app, this move will mean that it will not be a stealthy way for lawmakers to bring iMessage to Android after all.

Investigation closed

The European Commission confirmed that it had closed its investigation via a press release, noting that it had been running since September 5, 2023.

"The decisions conclude the Commission’s investigations opened following the notification by Apple and Microsoft in July 2023 of the core platform services that met the quantitative thresholds," the release explains. "Among these notified services were also the four services concerned by today’s decisions. Together with the notifications, Apple and Microsoft also submitted so-called ‘rebuttal’ arguments, explaining why despite meeting the quantitative thresholds, these four core platform services should not, in their view, qualify as gateways."

The commission wasn't convinced about Apple's claims that iMessage didn't meet the criteria to be named a gatekeeper and has been investigating since September. 

However, it should be noted that Apple isn't necessarily in the clear for good — the commission "will continue to monitor the developments on the market with respect to these services, should any substantial changes arise."

In this instance it was deemed that the low-level business use of iMessage means that it falls outside of the scope of the DMA's powers, but whether that remains the case moving forward only time will tell.

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Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

  • FFR
    Called it
    Reply
  • naddy69
    Under what pretense were they claiming that texting needs to be government regulated? Or are they just working on the belief - that all bureaucrats believe, BTW - that "more government is better government"? What exactly does "gatekeeper" mean?

    We can already text everyone all over the world. Stop trying to fix "problems" that only exist in your head.
    Reply