Microsoft and Apple seek Bing and iMessage exemptions in EU’s tech ‘gatekeeper’ list

Tech giants Microsoft and Apple are reportedly making efforts to avoid having their services, Bing and iMessage respectively, classified as “gatekeepers” under new European regulations. The Digital Markets Act (DMA), aimed at fostering competition in the tech industry, is set to publish a list of designated gatekeepers on September 6th.

This list will encompass both companies and specific services they provide, with these powerful platforms selected based on their revenue and user numbers. Once designated as gatekeepers, these companies will have until March 2024 to comply with the DMA’s rules, which include provisions for interoperability and competition.

Microsoft is unlikely to contest that its Windows platform falls within the gatekeeper definition. However, the company is arguing that Bing’s relatively small market share in comparison to Google should exempt it from certain requirements, such as offering users access to alternative search engines.

Similarly, Apple is reportedly developing methods to allow third-party app stores and sideloading on iOS to adhere to the impending regulations. Nevertheless, Apple contends that iMessage does not meet the DMA’s user threshold of 45 million active monthly users and should, therefore, not be compelled to interoperate with other messaging services, despite estimates suggesting it boasts a user base of potentially a billion worldwide.

These efforts by Microsoft and Apple are part of a broader suite of European Union laws designed to limit the influence of tech giants, with the Digital Services Act, which focuses on user data handling and content moderation, having recently come into effect. 

Number of industry giants and social media platforms have been in trouble with the EU. Earlier this year Google, Meta, and then-named Twitter were subject to tougher online content rules in Europe since their then-most-recent monthly user counts were above the threshold set by EU authorities. Around the same time, Meta was fined $414 million in the EU over targeted ads. 

In addition, Microsoft’s $69 billion Activision Blizzard acquisition was approved by the European Commission in May, weeks after being blocked by the UK’s antitrust regulator. The Commission launched its in-depth antitrust investigation into the deal in November, and reportedly issued an antitrust warning to the company in February, saying that the deal could harm competition in the console and PC gaming market. Prior to the good news of the approval, Microsoft said that EU’s DMA will help them reach their goal of launching an Xbox mobile games store, when it takes effect in March 2024. 

Written by Gizem Yılmaz


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