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Apple may yet prevail in EU iMessage antitrust investigation

European flags

In the wake of Apple's announcement that it will support RCS, a new report claims that Apple's iMessage may be granted a permanent reprieve from the EU forcing it to become more interoperable with other messaging clients.

The European Union's Digital Markets Act (DMA) is a set of rules specifically targeting tech giants including Apple, Amazon, Google, and others. The rules are intended to level the playing field for other companies, but officials are still trying to determine what they should do with the new powers.

The European Commission started a probe into iMessage, as well as Microsoft's Bing, Edge, and Microsoft Advertising in September 2023 to determine whether they need to be operated within the rules of the DMA. Apple believes that iMessage shouldn't be included in the interoperability provisions of the DMA.

A report from Bloomberg on Wednesday suggests that the EU will rule in Apple's favor. Sources familiar with the matter cited by the report claim that officials are "leaning toward the reprieve" for iMessage, given its relative lack of popularity in the EU marketplace.

Questionnaires were sent out by the European Commission in October, asking rivals and users to rate how important Apple's iMessage and three services of Microsoft's are compared to competitors. They were also asked if there were specific reasons that business users relied on the various services, and how many users used them.

After arguing iMessage wasn't big enough to count as a gatekeeper service in the EU, Apple managed to get its messaging app temporarily removed from DMA requirements in September.

And, since then, Apple has announced that it will support RCS messaging in 2024. It's not yet clear if this has made any difference to the EU, as it pertains to its decision making — but it seems probable.

Regardless what the report claims, the investigation does not conclude until February 2024.