Big Tech Dodges A Bullet As Apple And Microsoft Avoid Strict EU Gatekeeper Rules

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Apple and Microsoft dodged a big bullet, as the European Commission found the duo to not be designated as “gatekeepers.” The decision closed four market investigations that were first launched in September of last year following the passage of the Digital Markets Act.

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) was a landmark ruling that sought to impose regulations on so called ‘Gatekeeper’ firms, like Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon. The European Commission initially published the names of 19 platforms that it felt should be deemed ‘Gatekeepers’, and would face the strictest of regulation under the Digital Services Act, later named designated ‘gatekeepers’ of online services under the Digital Markets Act. However, Apple and Microsoft immediately appealed the decision, arguing that the services provided by the companies were not large or powerful enough to justify being deemed ‘gatekeepers’ under the DMA.

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In a statement released by the European Commission, it remarked, “Yesterday, the Commission has adopted decisions closing four market investigations that were launched on 5 September 2023 under the Digital Markets Act (DMA), finding that Apple and Microsoft should not be designated as gatekeepers for the following core platform services: Apple’s messaging service iMessage, Microsoft’s online search engine Bing, web browser Edge and online advertising service Microsoft Advertising.”

The statement went on to add that following a “thorough assessment of all arguments,” the Commission no longer felt the named services of both Apple and Microsoft met the criteria to be gatekeeper services under the DMA. It also remarked that it would continue to monitor the developments on the market in regard to the services, and that the latest decision does not include any of the companies’ other core platform services that were named in the original decision.

Following the reversal of fortune, an Apple spokesperson remarked to Reuters, “Consumers today have access to a wide variety of messaging apps, and often use many at once, which reflects how easy it is to switch between them.”

A Microsoft spokesperson added, “We will continue to engage with the Commission and industry at large to ensure Microsoft’s other designated platforms comply fully with the DMA.”

While some may be disappointed with the Commission’s latest decision concerning Apple and Microsoft, others feel it is a good sign. Lazar Radic, an antitrust expert at the International Center for Law and Economics remarked about the decision, “It is a good sign that the Commission has considered market realities, instead of just slapping the ‘gatekeeper’ label on iMessage because it fulfills certain quantitative thresholds.”