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Apple recently received positive news from the European Union (EU). The European Commission announced the closure of its market investigation into four services: Apple’s iMessage, Microsoft’s Bing, Edge, and online advertising service. The investigation aimed to determine if these services should be classified as “gatekeeper services.”

EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Gatekeeper Services

The EU’s new Digital Markets Act (DMA) imposes strict rules on core platform services operating within the European Union. These rules are designed to promote competition and prevent “gatekeeper” companies from unfairly pushing out third parties in growing markets.

Investigation Findings

After a thorough assessment, the European Commission concluded that iMessage, Bing, Edge, and Microsoft Advertising do not meet the criteria to be declared as “gatekeeper services.” Therefore, these services will not be subject to the regulations that would have required Apple and Microsoft to open them up for third-party integrations and cross-platform interoperability.

Apple’s Response

Apple welcomed the decision from the Commission. However, the company is still considered a “gatekeeper” under the DMA, and its services will continue to be scrutinized for potential gatekeeper behaviors.

DMA’s Impact on Apple

The DMA has compelled Apple to make significant changes to its iPhone, iOS, Safari, and App Store ecosystems. These changes are intended to create more competition and provide consumers with more choices. For example, Apple must now allow alternative marketplaces to distribute iOS apps, giving developers the option to avoid Apple’s App Store content rules and revenue share model.

Criticism of Apple’s DMA-Inspired Policies

Apple’s new policies, inspired by the DMA, have drawn criticism from companies like Meta, Spotify, and Xbox. These companies argue that the policies make it more costly for developers and may limit consumer choice.

iMessage Exemption

The European Commission’s decision to exempt iMessage from the gatekeeper regulations came as a surprise. The service is known for its interoperability issues, particularly between Apple and Android devices. Despite pressure from companies like Google and the introduction of messaging standards like Rich Communication Services (RCS), Apple has maintained its exclusive approach to iMessage.

Reason for Exemption

The primary reason for exempting iMessage is its limited popularity in the EU. Outside of the United States, WhatsApp is the preferred messaging app among users. In contrast, Meta’s WhatsApp has been designated as a core gatekeeper service by the EU.