New EU Messaging Law Could Force Apple, Facebook, Others To Work With Smaller Platforms

Messaging app providers like Apple and Meta could soon be forced to make their platforms compatible with other, smaller platforms. If the newly-agreed Digital Markets Act comes into force in October, it could mean big changes for iMessage, WhatsApp, and other messaging platforms.

A press release from the European Union (EU) has stipulated that lawmakers have agreed that companies – referred to as the “Gatekeepers” – will have been three months and four years to offer interoperability with other smaller services at the developer’s request.

Ongoing talks between Parliament, Council, and Commission resulted in the statement being made public:

EU lawmakers agreed that the largest messaging services (such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger or iMessage) will have to open up and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms, if they so request. Users of small or big platforms would then be able to exchange messages, send files or make video calls across messaging apps, thus giving them more choice. As regards interoperability obligation for social networks, co-legislators agreed that such interoperability provisions will be assessed in the future.

This is a huge deal for affected companies but also for smaller companies that want to be able to take advantage of having interoperability with the big players in the messaging game. It could also eventually put to bed the stigma that surrounds the “green” and “blue” bubbles that currently battle against one another through standard SMS and Apple’s iMessage platform.

The law hasn’t been officially passed yet and the language used still leaves a level of ambiguity as to what would actually be expected from companies like Apple and Meta. The purpose of this law appears to be to try and knock down some of the large walls that companies like Apple have built around their messaging platforms that essentially lock users into the Apple ecosystem.

There will likely be more to come on this in the coming months but it seems that the EU has started the process of forcing the hands of those in control of the dominant messaging platforms.

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