The long fight to make Apple’s iMessage compatible with all devices has raged with little to show for it. But Google (de facto leader of the charge) and other mobile operators are now leveraging the European Union’s Digital Market Act (DMA), according to the Financial Times. The law, which goes into effect in 2024, requires that “gatekeepers” not favor their own systems or limit third parties from interoperating within them. Gatekeepers are any company that meets specific financial and usage qualifications, including Google’s parent company Alphabet, Apple, Samsung and others.
The European Commission is investigating whether iMessage’s current functioning violates the DMA. Apple argues that its “small scale relative to other messaging services” and the lack of required use (or cost to do so) makes it irrelevant to the law. However, a letter from executives at companies such as Google, Vodafone and Orange argues that it should qualify as “enriched” messaging is only available to Apple users.
Apple’s iMessage not so subtly rewards you for communicating with other Apple devices (and for being an Apple user). Chats on iMessage stay blue until you add an Android user into the mix, and, suddenly, everything is green. Beyond the other reasons we’ll get into, it’s hard to explain why the blue is better, but it just is. On the tech side, Android users also get lower-quality photos and videos when they’re sent through iMessage. Plus, iMessages can be sent over Wi-Fi, reducing the need for data when traveling or if you’re simply running low on gigabytes for the month.
In a statement aimed at keeping iMessage’s benefits exclusive to Apple users, the company said, “Consumers today have access to a wide variety of messaging apps, and often use many at once, which reflects how easy it is to switch between them. iMessage is designed and marketed for personal consumer communications, and we look forward to explaining to the commission why iMessage is outside the scope of the DMA.”
If the fight against Apple is successful, changes to iMessage would be the latest shift forced by the European Commission. Apple’s new iPhone 15 dropped the lightning charger following a law mandating all new mobile devices sold in the EU have a USB-C port by the end of 2024.