The European Union (EU) has amended its Digital Markets Act to compel tech giants including Apple to make their messaging platforms more accessible. This means that Apple’s iMessage may have to offer cross-platform communication.
The Digital Markets Act, which was approved by the European Council in July 2022 and will take effect on May 2, 2023, contains several provisions aimed at preventing big tech companies from dominating the market and harming their competitors.
IMessage, Facebook Messager, and WhatsApp may be forced to interoperate with smaller messaging platforms
One of the most significant changes in the amended Act is requiring Apple to make iMessage accessible. Apple’s messaging service, iMessage, is a significant selling point for the iPhone, particularly among young people in the US. However, it only works on Apple devices, meaning users cannot exchange messages or make video calls across messaging apps, except through SMS texting.
The EU regulators’ amendment mandates the most extensive messaging services, including iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp, to open up and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms, allowing users to exchange messages, send files, or make video calls across messaging apps.
The EU regulators also want Apple to let third-party iOS browsers use their own rendering engines, as the tech giant currently requires developers to use its WebKit engine from Safari. The lawmakers also want Apple to allow iPhone users to download apps from outside the App Store. The Digital Markets Act aims to prevent tech firms from abusing their market dominance and harming their competitors.
The amendments to the Digital Markets Act are not limited to Europe, and other countries may follow suit with similar legislation. The Act aims to ensure a level playing field for all market players, particularly smaller companies that struggle to compete with major tech firms.
However, Apple may not welcome the changes as they could impact the company’s bottom line. Apple has been reluctant to bring iMessage to Android, as it is a significant selling point for the iPhone. By making iMessage accessible to other platforms, Apple could lose its exclusivity and market edge, which could have a significant impact on the company’s revenue and brand image.
The European Parliament and Council still need to approve the amendments with lawyers, but it is likely that they will pass. The EU regulators’ move to amend the Digital Markets Act is a step in the right direction toward a more competitive and fair market for all players. However, it remains to be seen how the tech giants will react and respond to the changes.