Imagine for a second you are Carl Pei, CEO of a new smartphone company called Nothing and you have lasted long enough in the business to release a second phone. But you need something to stand out about it. The fancy lights on its transparent back are just not cutting it and you don’t yet have a carrier deal with any of the US carriers.
You cook up an interesting idea. Code up a messaging app that supports iMessage. Make it exclusive on your new phone and maybe that will make it sell. The only Android smartphone that supports iMessage. Literally days after announcing this, not weeks but days, news comes out that the only saving grace you spent a lot of effort developing hoping will turn your sales around has been made redundant because news broke that iMessage will be supporting RCS.
It also does not help with Nothing’s case that their messaging app with iMessage support got flagged for security vulnerabilities and they ended up removing it from the Play Store while they worked on the ‘bugs’.
Apple has ignored RCS this whole time. What’s changed?
The EU is what. They enacted a Digital Markets Act that looks at the players in the digital landscape, identifies players that are classified as gatekeepers, and looks to revise that gatekeeper status and allow for a more open and fair digital playground. So interoperability is high on the list amongst other things.
This act is essentially coming at digital services like Microsoft and its heavy promotion of Bing in Windows as well as the walled garden that is Apple’s iMessage amongst other digital services.
The new rules will establish obligations for gatekeepers, “do’s” and “don’ts” they must comply with in their daily operations.European Commission
Examples of the “do’s”: gatekeepers will for example have to:
-allow third parties to inter-operate with the gatekeeper’s own services in certain specific situations;
-allow their business users to access the data that they generate in their use of the gatekeeper’s -platform;
-provide companies advertising on their platform with the tools and information necessary for -advertisers and publishers to carry out their own independent verification of their advertisements -hosted by the gatekeeper;
-allow their business users to promote their offer and conclude contracts with their customers outside the gatekeeper’s platform.
Example of the “don’ts”: gatekeepers will for example no longer:
-treat services and products offered by the gatekeeper itself more favourably in ranking than similar services or products offered by third parties on the gatekeeper’s platform;
-prevent consumers from linking up to businesses outside their platforms;
-prevent users from un-installing any pre-installed software or app if they wish so;
-track end users outside of the gatekeepers’ core platform service for the purpose of targeted advertising, without effective consent having been granted.
The penalties for resisting are pretty intense. Up to 10% of annual turnover if a gatekeeper does not comply, up to 20% of annual turnover if they make a repeat offense. It’s too big a penalty for Apple to keep the walls on iMessage that high.
When an attendee told the Apple CEO that he couldn’t send videos or media files from his iPhone to his mother’s Android phone with the native messaging app, Cook replied saying, “Buy your mom an iPhone”.Tim Cook
This one didn’t age well now, did it? lol
It’s only a big deal in the US
The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the US by far. Since Q3 of 2022, iPhone shipments in the US have consistently been above 50% of all smartphone shipments in the country. With such a huge chunk of the population owning and using iPhones, it then makes certain apps the defacto apps in the country. iMessage is one such app and when in the States, the blue bubble vs green bubble story is a contentious one.
Everywhere else in the world, other instant messaging apps are popular. WhatsApp, Messenger, and WeChat in China are the dominant messaging services in regions outside of the States. So such a move is most likely going to be welcomed with open arms in the US by non-iPhone users who were being excluded from some of the rich communication features simply because they are using a different platform.
The biggest benefit all over is security. Traditional SMS is not set up to the same security standard as RCS messaging in the world of Android or iMessage in the world of Apple. This means that currently if an iMessage user communicates with an Android user, iMessage will switch to the older traditional SMS or MMS standard to send the message. The same goes for the reverse where an RCS user sends a message to an iMessage user. Since RCS is not yet supported by iMessage, an RCS messaging app will default to traditional SMS or MMS when sending messages to Apple devices.
With iMessage supporting RCS, messaging between these 2 platforms will now take place in a more secure environment. And also all the added benefits of sharing high-quality images and videos, documents, integration with payments for services, and all the goodies that come as a result of this newer messaging standard.
Either way, the European Commission deserves ka something pa EcoCash for the work they are doing. Come 2027 they will be bringing removable batteries in smartphones. What a time to be alive.