In the ever-evolving landscape of technology and communication, the European Union (EU) finds itself at the crossroads of a battle between giants. Recently, the EU came together to determine whether Apple, the tech giant behind the iconic iPhone and iMessage, should support Rich Communication Service (RCS) messaging. This pivotal decision could have far-reaching implications. Not only for Apple but also for users across the 27 EU member countries.
After negotiations with the EU, Apple has been granted a reprieve from adopting RCS-messaging. iMessage is still considered a core platform service, but it’s not considered a “gatekeeper” yet. So if Apple is eventually forced to add RCS support to iMessage, it would be around February 2024 and Apple would have until August 2024 to implement it.
The EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA)
The EU’s Digital Markets Act is a legislative framework passed by its 27 member countries. The act has been a game-changer in the tech industry. It seeks to address various issues, including fair competition and consumer choice. One significant aspect of the DMA is its potential to force Apple into supporting RCS within the EU. This shift could be monumental for both Android and iPhone users.
RCS is the messaging platform used by Google’s Android. The service offers features similar to Apple’s iMessage. This includes features such as end-to-end encryption, support for longer texts, high-quality media sharing, and of course read receipts. However, a key distinction is that these features may not fully translate when iOS users interact with Android users, leaving Apple hesitant to embrace RCS support.
The Battle of Features: iMessage vs. RCS
Apple’s reluctance to support RCS stems from its belief that iMessage remains a unique selling point for iPhones. Yet, it’s worth noting that RCS also brings its set of unique features. These are features such as suggested replies, and the ability to share locations with family and friends. The question arises: Should features like Animojis and Memojis be the sole reason for consumers to choose iPhones over Android devices?
Is iMessage a Gatekeeper?
A crucial determinant in this ongoing saga is whether the EU deems Apple’s iMessage a “gatekeeper.” A gatekeeper, according to the DMA, is “a company that meets certain financial criteria, operates across multiple Member States, and serves a substantial number of users”. Apple is contesting this classification. They are arguing that iMessage doesn’t have the requisite 45 million users within the EU. However, the EU’s definition of gatekeepers extends beyond individual services and encompasses the broader tech ecosystem. This implies that even if Apple escapes the “gatekeeper” label, the company may still be subject to regulatory changes affecting its services.
The Awaited Verdict
As of today, September 6th, the EU is set to reveal its list of gatekeeper firms and the services, like iMessage, that fall under this category. The outcome will significantly impact Apple’s future actions. If iMessage is declared a gatekeeper, Apple faces a deadline until March 24th to add RCS support within the EU. It’s worth noting that Apple may choose to implement this support exclusively in the 27 EU member countries.
[H/T] – Phone Arena
[H/T] – Apple Insider