Apple has secured an exemption for its iMessage, and Microsoft has gained a similar exception for its Bing search engine, sparing them from the new EU tech rules.
The European Union’s Digital Markets Act is set to take effect in three weeks, mandating major tech players like Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, Meta Platforms, and ByteDance to open their platforms to third-party apps or app stores, facilitating easier user transitions to competitors while prohibiting preferential treatment of their services over rivals.
Despite this sweeping regulation, a five-month investigation by the European Commission concluded that iMessage, Bing, Edge, and Microsoft Advertising “did not qualify as gatekeeper services.” Notably, Apple’s App Store, iOS operating system, and Safari browser will continue to be classified as gatekeepers, alongside Microsoft’s Linkedin social network and Windows operating system.
Apple argued that iMessage has minimal usage compared to rival messaging services in the EU and is not a crucial channel for businesses to connect with users in the bloc. A spokesperson for Apple highlighted the abundance of messaging apps available to consumers, emphasizing the ease of switching between them.
On the other hand, Microsoft contended that Bing, Edge, and Microsoft Advertising operate as challengers in the market and are relatively small in scale, making them non-essential gateways for business users. While both companies welcomed the exemptions, they expressed ongoing commitment to compliance with the Digital Markets Act.
The Coalition for Open Digital Ecosystems (CODE), which includes Google, Meta Platforms, and Qualcomm among its members, criticized the Commission’s decision. In a statement, CODE argued that the unexpected exemption undermines the objectives of the Digital Markets Act and its potential to enhance choice and competition for all Europeans. The intricacies of the companies’ arguments during the assessment remain undisclosed by the Commission.