The European Commission has been working on Digital Markets Act (DMA), new antitrust laws, which seek to limit the “anticompetitive” control and influence of tech giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, and others on the smartphone market which is deemed harmful for small developers and consumers. As part of DMA, the EU can force Apple to make its iMessage interoperable platform, along with WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and other digital messaging services.
In 2020, under the leadership of the European Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, and EU Internal Market Commissioner, Thierry Breton, the EU antitrust body began work on the DMA regulatory legislation to provide guidelines for acceptable and disapproved business practices for gatekeepers starting with permitting sideloading or alternative payment methods outside of tech giant’s app stores. The authority also clarified that under the Act, violators will face heavy fines.
Along with App Store, Apple might also have to open iMessage platform
In addition to opening iOS, and Android platforms to sideloading, the EU wants all major messaging platforms to be interoperable which means consumers will be able to send messages across various platforms. For example, users on iMessage will be able to send a text on WhatsApp or any other platform. TechCrunch reports:
Users of small or big platforms would then be able to exchange messages, send files or make video calls across messaging apps, thus giving them more choice. As regards interoperability obligation for social networks, co-legislators agreed that such interoperability provisions will be assessed in the future.
In addition to the proposal to allow sideloading on iOS, Apple is likely to be unhappy with the proposal to make iMessage interoperable. In January this year, Google executive Hiroshi Lockheimer attacked Apple’s “lock-in” iMessage architecture and suggested that Apple should work on opening iMessage to Android by adopting the RCS standard.
Rich Communication Services (RCS) protocol/ standard is a modern fix to bring rich features to text message service. The standard is designed to enable the exchange of audio, video, group chats, the ‘Read’ receipts, and other features available on iMessage and other messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
Based on the standard, the RCS chat protocol was developed to upgrade SMS services on various platforms. Google offers RCS chat globally via the Android Messages app to users who install and use the default texting app.
Lockheimer accused the tech giant of deliberately not supporting RCS because it wants to lock iOS consumers in its ecosystem. If Apple is not willing to adopt RCS for iMessage, it might also not be willing to make the platform interoperable.