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Apple’s iMessage and Microsoft’s Bing Granted Exemption from EU Tech Rules

 |  February 13, 2024

Tech giants Apple and Microsoft have successfully secured exemptions for their iMessage and Bing search engine, respectively, from the new digital regulations set forth by the European Union.

The exemptions come after rigorous negotiations and the presentation of convincing arguments to antitrust regulators, asserting that their services do not function as gateways for businesses to reach end-users, reported Reuters.

The European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), set to take effect in just three weeks, imposes stringent regulations on major tech players, including Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon Meta Platforms, and ByteDance. These regulations mandate the allowance of third-party apps or app stores on their platforms and facilitate easier transitions for users to switch to rival services. Additionally, the Act prohibits these companies from favoring their own services over competitors.

Following a comprehensive five-month investigation, the European Commission announced that iMessage, Bing, Edge, and Microsoft Advertising “did not qualify as gatekeeper services.” The Commission underscored its thorough assessment, considering input from relevant stakeholders, though specifics regarding the companies’ arguments were not disclosed.

Related: Google Says Microsoft Engaging In Anti-Competitive Cloud Practices

Apple contended that iMessage usage within the EU is minimal compared to competing messaging services, asserting that it does not significantly serve as a channel for businesses to engage with users in the bloc. An Apple spokesperson emphasized the plethora of messaging apps available to consumers and the ease with which they can switch between them.

Similarly, Microsoft defended Bing, Edge, and Microsoft Advertising, portraying them as competitors in the market with relatively modest scales, thus negating their status as crucial gateways for business users. The company expressed its commitment to ongoing engagement with the Commission and the broader industry to ensure compliance with the DMA on other designated platforms.

Lazar Radic, an antitrust expert at the International Center for Law and Economics, lauded the Commission’s decision, stating, “It is a good sign that the Commission has considered market realities.” He emphasized the importance of moving beyond quantitative thresholds and assessing the true nature of services in determining their regulatory classification.

While Apple’s iMessage and Microsoft’s Bing have been granted exemption, other significant platforms such as Apple’s App Store, iOS operating system, Safari browser, Microsoft’s LinkedIn social network, and Windows operating system will continue to be classified as gatekeepers under the DMA.

Source: Reuters