FCC Commissioner calls for crackdown on Apple's iMessage gatekeeping

Demands investigation into iPhone maker for potentially breaching regulations over Beeper Mini

Brendan Carr of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has called on the authority to take a closer look at Apple's actions in the Beeper Mini affair.

Beeper Mini was launched to bring the iMessage service to non-Apple devices. It allowed users to send or receive iMessages without Apple hardware being involved. Apple was less than impressed and after a few weeks of Whac-A-Mole, Beeper threw in the towel.

Various members of the US Congress expressed their disquiet at the time, and concerns were raised that Apple's conduct might be anti-competitive.

Enter Brendan Carr, a senior Republican on the Commission, who has now asked the FCC to assess whether Apple violated the FCC's part 14 rules on accessibility, usability, and compatibility.

It comes amid increasing scrutiny of Apple from both sides of the Atlantic. In response to a user highlighting the accessibility settings available on iDevices, Carr snapped back: "Do those settings fix the problem of degraded photo quality, down resolution of videos, removal of location info, inaccessibility of advanced messaging features, etc when messaging with Android?"

"There are many negative consequences (incl competitive ones) that flow from Apple's iMessage decisions."

The Blue Bubble versus Green Bubble debate does not seem to be going away any time soon, at least as far as the US is concerned.

Register readers will be familiar with Carr following the Trump-appointed Commissioner's support for Elon Musk's Starlink, both in January following a pledge of several million dollars by the Biden administration for high-speed internet access, as well as in 2022 after the FCC decided to withdraw an award worth nearly a billion dollars from Starlink.

In addition to highlighting the Beeper Mini incident, Carr said: "Apple's wider set of exclusionary practices warrant scrutiny by antitrust and competition agencies."

We asked the FCC if it planned to do as Carr has asked, but we have yet to receive a reply from the agency. We also asked Apple to comment. ®

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