Apple and Microsoft fight Brussels over ‘gatekeeper’ label for iMessage and Bing

Apple and Microsoft have argued with Brussels that some of their services are insufficiently popular to be designated as “gatekeepers” under new landmark EU legislation designed to curb the power of Big Tech.

Brussels’ battle with the two US companies over Apple’s iMessage chat app and Microsoft’s Bing search engine comes ahead of Wednesday’s publication of the first list of services to be regulated by the Digital Markets Act.

Microsoft’s argument seems to make sense.

Microsoft was unlikely to dispute the designation of its Windows operating system, which dominates the PC industry, as a gatekeeper, these people said. But it has argued that Bing has a market share of just 3 per cent and further legal scrutiny would put it at a greater disadvantage.

I guess the validity of Microsoft’s argument hinges on if that 3% equates to the number of users requirements set by the European Union, but I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

Apple’s argument, though, seems more precarious.

Separately, Apple argued that iMessage did not meet the threshold of user numbers at which the rules applied and therefore should not comply with obligations that include opening the service to rival apps such as Meta’s WhatsApp, said the two people.

Analysts have estimated that iMessage, which is built into every iPhone, iPad and Mac, has as many as 1bn users globally, but Apple has not disclosed any figures for several years. The decision is likely to hinge on how Apple and the EU define the market in which iMessage operates.

One billion users worldwide is most definitely going to mean it exceeds the minimums set by the DSA. Apple, you’re going to have to open up iMessage, and allow competitors and newcomers to interoperate with it. Using messaging services as lock-in is outdated, anti-consumer, and harmful to competition.

And if you don’t like it – as they say on the Isle of Man, a boat leaves in the morning.


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