Google wants EU to subject iMessage to interoperability rules

Google and Europe’s biggest carriers have called on the European Union to include Apple iMessage under the Digital Markets Act (DMA). If this happens, the app would be subject to interoperability rules.

While Apple said in September that iMessage isn’t big enough to be known as a gatekeeper service, the app has 45 million monthly active users within the EU. Rival companies argue iMessage should fall under the DMA as a gatekeeper service because it comes preinstalled on every iPhone sold in the EU and the rest of the world.

Apple iMessage could soon identify as a gatekeeper in the EU

Google, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica, and Orange have sent a letter to the European regulators and asked them to subject iMessage to interoperability rules. Falling under the interoperability rules means Apple should open up iMessage to third-party messaging services. Of course, the interoperability rules only apply to Apple in the EU. So the tech firm doesn’t have to allow for interoperability in the US, Asia, or other areas.

Google and Europe’s carriers noted that opening up iMessage to rival platforms would “benefit European consumers and businesses.” The letter claimed the current iMessage system limits the reach of business users to iOS users, and they should rely on SMS to reach non-iOS users.

The agency has already added Apple’s App Store, iOS, WhatsApp, and Messenger to the gatekeepers list. The eligible services need to have over 45 million monthly active users in the EU. The owner’s turnover in the region should also exceed 7.5 billion euros annually, or its market cap should surpass 75 billion euros. You can see the list of gatekeeper apps here.

Given the existing metrics, Apple iMessage should be added to the gatekeeper list. Meanwhile, the regulators have some doubts about the exact number of iMessage monthly active users in the region. Over 1 billion iPhones worldwide use iMessage, and the iPhone takes up 25% of the European smartphone market. Apple never released any report about iMessage monthly active users. However, it’s not far-fetched to assume the app potentially has over 45 monthly active users in the EU.

While the EU is still hesitant about adding iMessage to the gatekeepers list, Google has already prepared for it. The company added support for interoperable end-to-end encrypted communication standards in July.