Apple is huge iPhone Mistakes – bad news for a billion people

Apple is huge iPhone Mistakes - bad news for a billion people

Tech Highlights:

  • Much has been written in the last two weeks, following the EU’s landmark decision to clampdown on tech walled gardens, with its lawmakers agreeing “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.”

  • As the months tick away until the release of iPhone 14 and iOS 16, Apple risks repeating the mistakes of last year, when its launch plans were nearly derailed by a content-scanning scheme that sparked outrage. Apple already had a significant issue after promising to reconsider last year’s divisive decision. With a game-changing new regulation and a stern warning addressed at its billion-plus iPhone users, the problem has only gotten worse.

The Digital Markets Act has several serious ramifications for Apple, such as unpicking its App Store monopoly to allow side-loading for the first time, but it’s the impact on iMessage that will hit hardest. The idea that a Signal or Telegram or even Threema user can message someone on WhatsApp or iMessage echoes back to the introduction of network interoperability back in the early days of SMS, but there was no optionality back then, SMS was the only cellphone messaging platform. While breaking down monopolistic tech walled gardens is laudable, there are major security and technical risks.

The situation for Apple’s iMessage and Google Messages is very different. These are stock messengers, and in Apple’s case there is no way for a user to select an alternative SMS client on their device. While Google has taken the lead in pushing out RCS—an update to SMS, and has now added encryption into the mix, Apple has steadfastly refused to play outside its walled garden.

As I explained last week, the impact from DMA will be felt hardest by WhatsApp, the world’s largest messenger has no other strings to its bow, there’s an argument here that it’s not broken and doesn’t need fixing. Promoting innovation is one thing, but giving start-up platforms access to WhatsApp’s huge user base actually risks doing the opposite.

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