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Apple’s Obligation to Support RCS Messaging to Be Decided by the EU Tomorrow

According to reports, the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) may require Apple to make some changes to its iPhone 15 series. One of these changes would be replacing the proprietary Lightning port with a USB-C port, thanks to the EU’s push for standardized charging. This would mean that iPhone users would no longer need to rely on Apple’s specific charging cables and could instead use USB-C cables that are widely available.

In addition to the port change, the EU might also force Apple to support Rich Communication Service (RCS) in its iMessage platform. RCS is the messaging platform used by Google’s Android messaging app, and Google has been pushing for Apple to add iOS support for it. RCS offers many of the same features as iMessage, such as end-to-end encryption, support for longer texts, high-quality images and videos, read receipts, and typing indicators. However, these features are not available when an iOS user joins a group chat with Android users.

Apple has been hesitant to add support for RCS as it sees iMessage as a unique feature that sets its iPhones apart from Android devices. However, RCS also has unique features such as suggested replies and the ability to share locations with family and friends. These features, along with the fact that iMessage exclusive features like Animoji and Memoji shouldn’t be the sole reason consumers choose an iPhone over an Android device, could push Apple to reconsider its stance.

The EU will determine whether iMessage is considered a “gatekeeper” and if Apple will be required to support RCS. A company is considered a gatekeeper if it meets certain financial criteria and operates in multiple EU member states. Apple argues that iMessage doesn’t have enough EU users to be considered a gatekeeper, but the EU will make the final decision.

If iMessage is deemed a gatekeeper, Apple will have until March 24th to add support for RCS in the EU. It’s possible that Apple would only offer RCS support in the 27 EU member countries if forced to do so. Similar to the change from Lightning to USB-C, which Apple is implementing worldwide, the company would likely limit RCS support to the EU if required.

The EU will announce its decision on which companies qualify as gatekeepers, as well as the specific services that fall under this designation, tomorrow, September 6th. It remains to be seen whether iMessage will be included in this list. Apple CEO Tim Cook might be in for a sleepless night as he awaits the EU’s decision. Stay tuned for updates on this story.

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