Tomorrow, the EU will decide whether Apple will have to support RCS messaging

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Tomorrow, the EU will decide whether Apple will have to support RCS messaging
Thanks to the EU, the iPhone 15 series will have a USB-C port instead of the proprietary Lightning port. The EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA), passed by its 27 member countries, might force Apple to allow developers to promote third-party in-app payment platforms that would allow developers to avoid the 15% to 30% cut of in-app transactions that Apple keeps.

Apple may be forced by the EU to support RCS in the 27 EU member countries


Apple will soon hear about another change that might be forced on it by the DMA. Depending on whether the EU says that Apple's iMessage platform is a "gatekeeper" or not, Apple could be forced to add support for Rich Communication Service (RCS). The latter is the platform used by Google's Android messaging app and Google has been trying to get Apple to add iOS support for it.


What is interesting is that RCS gives Android users many of the same features that iMessage gives iOS users such as end-to-end encryption, support for longer texts, high-quality images and videos, read receipts, typing indicators, and more. And here's the thing. Just like with iMessage, all of the extra goodies we just listed go away if an iOS user joins a group chat made up of Android users. Since Apple believes that iMessage is a unique feature that attracts iPhone buyers, Apple wants nothing to do with adding support for RCS.

However, the features found on iMessage that you won't get on RCS, such as Animojis, Memojis, and the capability of sending handwritten notes really shouldn't be enough to make a consumer choose an iPhone over an Android device. And RCS has features that are unique too, such as suggested replies and the capability to share your location with family and friends.

Apple says that iMessage doesn't have enough EU users to be considered a gatekeeper


But let's get back to the issue at hand. Per BGR, If the EU says that iMessage is a gatekeeper, Apple will be forced to support rival messaging platforms such as RCS. A company is considered a gatekeeper in the EU if had an average turnover of at least €7.5 billion in the last three financial years, or had a fair market value of at least €75 billion in the last financial year.

A gatekeeper also has to operate in at least three Member States, and help over "45 million monthly active users and more than 10,000 yearly active business users in the EU during the last three years on a number of core platform services, such as search engines, social networking services, and operating systems." Apple is arguing that it doesn't have the 45 million iMessage users in the EU that are required for it to be a gatekeeper.

Under the DMA definitions, the EU said back in July that seven tech firms qualify as gatekeepers including Apple, Google, Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, Samsung, and ByteDance. Booking.com said that it will join the group next year. Tomorrow, September 6th, the EU will announce exactly which firms are gatekeepers and will also list services, like iMessage, that are gatekeepers. So even though Apple is, in the eyes of the DMA, a gatekeeper, iMessages might not be. And this is important.

A sleepless night for Tim Cook?


Apple argues that iMessage, by itself, is not big enough to be a gatekeeper. Apple is hoping that the EU agrees in which case, Apple will not have to add support for RCS in the EU. If iMessage is considered a gatekeeper, Apple will have until March 24th to support RCS in the economic union.

Unlike changing the iPhone's port from Lightning to USB-C which Apple is doing worldwide, the company would probably decide to offer RCS support, if forced to do so, in the 27 EU member countries only. The same thing would probably happen if Apple is forced to support third-party app stores and sideloading.

So don't forget to check back tomorrow to see if we have any news about whether the EU considers iMessage to be a gateway or not. For Tim Cook, it could be a sleepless night.

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