December 11, 2023

In a major move, EU antitrust regulators seek the opinion of Microsoft’s users and rival companies if Bing should fall under the new tech rules it rolled out. The rules, known as the Digital Markets Act (DMA), are designed to level the playing field for smaller tech companies.

Notably, the DMA requires designated “gatekeepers” to allow for third-party apps or app stores on their platforms. This is to make it easier for users to switch from default apps to rivals. 

The DMA also prohibits gatekeepers from unfairly using their data to compete with rivals. These requirements are poised to reshape the dynamics of the digital marketplace.

Commission Seeks Comprehensive Feedback

The latest report revealed that the European Commission moved to investigate if Microsoft’s Bing, Edge, and Microsoft Advertising qualify as gatekeepers under the DMA Act.

Similarly, it is scrutinizing Apple’s iMessage to determine whether it should be classified as a gatekeeper under the DMA.

If these products are classified as gatekeepers, they would be subject to the regulatory rules outlined in the DMA. Earlier this month, the Commission distributed questionnaires to Microsoft’s users and competitors. 

This involves asking them to assess the importance of Microsoft’s services and whether they should be subject to the DMA. Additionally, the Commission seeks feedback on how Microsoft’s services impact competition and consumer choice.

This action by the Commission signifies its commitment to enforcing the DMA, even though the law is still in the developmental phase. If Microsoft’s Bing and Edge are designated gatekeepers, it would necessitate significant changes to how the company conducts its business.

Respondents to the Commission’s inquiries have been given a relatively short window of less than a week to provide their input. This expedited timeline underscores the urgency with which the Commission is approaching this investigation. 

This also highlights its commitment to addressing potential antitrust concerns promptly. The Commission’s goal is to wrap up its investigation within five months, demonstrating its dedication to enforcing the DMA efficiently.

The Digital Markets Act (DMA) brings forth a series of mandates and obligations for tech industry behemoths. These tech giants include Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon, Meta Platforms (formerly Facebook), and ByteDance. 

These mandates are designed to level the playing field, ensuring fair competition and better consumer choice. Among the key obligations are the facilitation of third-party apps and app stores on their platforms. This will enhance user accessibility to alternative apps and services. 

The Broader Implications of the Investigation

The ongoing investigation into Microsoft’s Bing and Apple’s iMessage has significant implications for companies and the broader tech industryIf these services fall under the DMA’s purview, it could necessitate important changes to their business practices. 

This, in turn, could potentially affect their market dominance and competitive positioning. Additionally, this investigation sets a precedent for how the EU will regulate tech giants in the future. 

So, the outcome of the investigation will have far-reaching implications, not only for Microsoft and Apple but for the tech industry as a whole.

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