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The European Union is determined to assess the importance of Apple’s iMessage to its users in order to cement its initial plan to include it in its Digital Markets Act list. According to Reuters, the antitrust regulators sent rivals and users questionnaires earlier this month. Microsoft is reportedly facing the same scrutiny over its Bing, Edge, and Microsoft Advertising services. The respondents were given a week to complete the questionnaires, and the EU reportedly wants to end the probe in five months.

In case it is pushed, the policy of DMA will force Apple to open the platform to third-party competitors and rivals. This should also require the company to make it easier for users to switch services, depending on their preferences. Apparently, this will be a huge challenge to Apple, which also faces pressure from Google (and its allies) to start using RCA as the modern industry standard for messaging.

Earlier in September, Apple and Microsoft contested the idea of the iMessage being covered by the DMA policy:

According to the EU’s standard, a service would be given gatekeeper status if it exceeds 7.5 billion euros annually or has a market cap beyond 75 billion euros. Apple clearly meets this section, but it seems to contest its eligibility for a requirement involving the monthly user count. As the EU defined, a platform must have 45 million monthly active users. Apple has over 1 billion active iPhones worldwide, meaning it could ideally exceed the number since iMessage is pre-installed on the devices. However, there is no data to confirm this since Apple doesn’t publish a report about the monthly active usage of the service among iPhone users.

Apple’s and Microsoft’s pushback resulted in positive results, causing the EU to start probes and temporarily remove their products from the DMA gatekeeper service list. However, as mentioned, the move was temporary. And so, the EU regulators are now starting to fortify their argument by collecting the comments of the two giants’ customers:

According to Reuters, the EU wants rivals and users to “rate the importance of Microsoft’s three services and Apple’s iMessage versus competing services” and find “anything specific to the services that business users rely on and how they fit into the companies’ ecosystems.” 

Additionally, the regulators are reportedly trying to determine the number of users of the platforms. This should be one of the main elements the EU can use to justify the enforcement of the law on the said services, especially for Apple, which has over 1 billion active iPhones worldwide. With that number, the company could ideally exceed DMA’s 45 million monthly active users requirement since iMessage is pre-installed on the devices. However, there is no data to confirm this since Apple doesn’t publish a report about the monthly active usage of the service among iPhone users. EU’s investigation should reveal these numbers in the coming months. 

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