Apple gets the EU message it hoped for: iMessage is fine as it is

Apple won't be forced to make iMessage play nice with other messaging apps, because it isn't popular enough to require regulation

Apple smile emoji
(Image credit: Future)

Apple has received the EU message it was hoping for: it won't be forced to make its iMessage platform interoperable with rival tech firms' messaging platforms. 

An investigation by the EU competition regulator has concluded that iMessage isn't popular enough to require regulation under the EU Digital Markets Act, which is designed to stop tech firms from throwing their weight around unfairly. EU investigators looked at iMessage's market share, particularly in business, and decided that the platform didn't have sufficient market share to be a potential problem for consumer choice. The investigation also looked at Microsoft's Bing and came to the same conclusion.

Apple has welcomed the news, as it means that the iMessage platform and the Messages app can basically carry on as normal for customers in the EU. Had the investigation come to a different decision Apple might have been ordered to make iMessage play nice with messaging platforms from firms such as Meta and Google.

Don't worry, though. iPhones are still going to be nicer to Android users from 2024 onwards.

What does the EU verdict mean for iPhone users?

Business as usual: Apple doesn't have to change anything to make iMessage more sociable, or at least it doesn't have to make any changes for fear of a big financial penalty. But Apple has already announced some changes to interoperability in its Messages app. As we previously reported, it's going to be supporting the RCS (Rich Communication Services) messaging standard that's also used by firms such as Google. 

That support is in addition to its own iMessage platform and SMS text messaging, so for example iPhone to iPhone messages will still use iMessage. But the experience when you're chatting with Android users will become less limited.

Apple's embrace of RCS isn't whole-hearted, however. Apple has pledged to support the core features of RCS, such as Wi-Fi messaging (the current SMS standard uses the phone network), multi-device messaging, group chats and file sharing. But it won't support the bits Google has glued onto the standard for its own apps, such as end to end encryption. And it's keeping the green bubbles that seem to annoy so many Android users.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (