The iMessage service would not be popular enough in Europe to meet the criteria of the DMA, the new European legislation. Apple would therefore like not to follow the same constraints as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
A new law in Europe, the DMA, should notably allow online messaging giants to make their services compatible and interoperable. But Apple, which doesn’t like having its hand forced, doesn’t want to hear it that way.
Wouldn’t iMessage be popular?
According to the Financial Timesreported by 9TB5MacApple wishes to argue that they do not meet the criteria to be qualified as “access controllers» (“gatekeepers” in English). This is a concept created by the DMA which makes it possible to create a more restrictive law, but applicable only to the largest players. Among the criteria, you must have a turnover of 7.5 billion euros per year in the last three years, which Apple easily meets and have more than 45 million users per month. This is where Apple frowns.
The firm must be ready to prove, with supporting documents, that its messaging service does not attract more than 45 million users in the European Union despite the tens of millions of iPhones sold over the years. Indeed, it is estimated that Apple occupies 25% of smartphone sales in Europe, for a total market estimated at 200 million smartphones in 2021. In other words, for that year alone, Apple would have sold some 50 million in Europe of iPhone. The iMessage application being pre-installed on all iPhones and mandatory for managing SMS, one wonders how Apple can have fewer than 45 million active users.
The European Union must publish next week the precise list of services affected by its legislation. We will therefore have to see if she considers that iMessage is one of them or not. This list should notably mention the firm’s App Store, and therefore force it to open iOS to alternative stores. Apple is not the only firm to reject its presence on the list, Microsoft would also like to exclude its Bing search engine.
Why is this so important to Apple?
The iMessage service is one of Apple’s most important exclusives, because it immediately allows users of Android smartphones to be distinguished by their green bubbles. In the United States, this distinction is a driving force in pushing people, particularly younger people, to adopt “blue bubbles” and therefore own an iPhone. For several years, press articles have documented how this phenomenon could generate harassment in schools.
More recently, a study showed that 87% of American teenagers owned an iPhone and did not want to switch to Android, in particular to avoid ending up with green bubbles. For Apple, this is undoubtedly a war chest that must be maintained and preserved for as long as possible.