Apple, Microsoft deny EU ‘gatekeeper’ status for iMessage, Bing

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Apple and Microsoft are pressing the EU to omit iMessage and Bing, respectively, from a list of “gatekeepers” subject to new regulatory requirements. Their reasoning? The services, claim the companies, simply aren’t popular enough.

The dispute stems from the EU’s new Digital Markets Act, a landmark law designed to constrain the power of big tech. A key aim of the rules is to prevent digital giants from squashing smaller rivals by boxing users into closed services.

The targets of the policies are the so-called gatekeepers — companies that provide “core platform services” prone to unfair business practices, such as social networks or search engines.

To be designated as gatekeepers, businesses need either a market cap of at least €75bn or an annual turnover of €7.5bn. They must also provide certain services such as browsers, messengers or social media, which have at least 45 million monthly end users in the EU and 10,000 annual business users.

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Companies that meet the criteria will face various new obligations, such as making their services interoperate with competing apps. Violators risk fines of up to 20% of their global revenue.

The first list of these gatekeepers is due to be published on Wednesday. Brussels is still considering including Apple’s iMessage chat app and Microsoft’s Bing search engine, the Financial Times reports. The two tech giants contend that their services aren’t popular enough to justify inclusion.

Microsoft argues that Bing shouldn’t be subject to the same requirements as the much larger Google Search, the Financial Times said, citing two people with direct knowledge of the issue.

Supporters of the company note that Bing has a market share of just 3%. If Microsoft is forced to offer access to rival search engines, the outcome may merely boost Google’s existing search monopoly.

Apple, meanwhile, says that iMessage simply doesn’t have enough EU users to be classified as a gatekeeper. As a result, the company argues that the messenger shouldn’t face the same requirements as Meta’s WhatsApp.

The outcome of their lobbying may emerge this week. If the services are designated as gatekeepers, the companies will have six months to meet the obligations.

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