The European Union set tighter curbs on Apple, Amazon, Google owner Alphabet, Meta Platforms, ByteDance and Microsoft by naming them digital “gatekeepers” under the Digital Markets Act (DMA).
Regulators also opened four investigations into Apple’s iMessage service and Microsoft’s Bing, Edge and Advertising businesses after the companies argued that they shouldn’t qualify under the new rules.
Companies that operate a “core platform service,” such as Google Search, will have to comply with the DMA by March 2024. The DMA aims to halt Big Tech’s ability to abuse their market power and make it easier for smaller players to operate online. Seven companies had already self-notified the Commission that they met the thresholds for gatekeeper status under the law.
Core platform services cover a wide range of companies’ offerings. They can be search engines, social networks, app stores, messaging platforms, virtual assistants, web browsers, operating systems and online intermediation services.
Such platforms should have at least 45 million active monthly users in the EU; and a turnover of at least €7.5 billion in the last three financial years or a €75 billion market capitalization. They could also provide a “gateway” for businesses to reach end-users, a “significant impact” on the EU’s business sector, and an “entrenched and durable position” in their respective markets. The Commission also has the power to designate gatekeepers outside of those thresholds to capture services that create bottlenecks in the digital economy.
These are the gatekeepers and their platforms that fall within the DMA’s scope:
App Store (Intermediation)
Apple said earlier this year its iOS App Store had about 101 million average monthly active users, and also qualified as a very large online platform (VLOP) under the EU’s new content-moderation rulebook, the Digital Services Act.
IOS (Operating system)
Eight of Alphabet’s Google products give the company its gatekeeper status. The company said in February that Google had 332 million average monthly users on Search. The advertising technology on its browser service is already the subject of an EU probe into anti-competitive behavior.
Google Android (Operating system)
Google Search (Search engine)
Google Play (Intermediation)
Google Play is the world’s largest app store, with 274.6 million average active monthly users. That means it also qualifies as a VLOP.
Google Maps (Intermediation)
Google Shopping (Intermediation)
Youtube (Video sharing)
Amazon Marketplace (Intermediation)
Amazon is the dominant player in Europe’s e-commerce market, with more than 1 billion monthly visits from consumers. The company also had a €1.29 trillion market capitalization last year — putting it well above the DMA’s value benchmark.
Facebook had 255 million average monthly active users in Europe alone during the second half of 2022, while Instagram had about 250 million users, the company said in February.
The company even claimed the DMA stopped it from launching its new Threads app in the EU right away because it currently requires an Instagram account to sign in, something that wouldn’t be allowed under the new rules.
Facebook (Social network)
Instagram (Social network)
WhatsApp (Messaging services)
Messenger (Messaging services)
Meta Marketplace (Intermediation)
Facebook’s online shopping platform is a key gateway for small retailers and the second-hand market.
Tik Tok (Social network)
ByteDance’s video-sharing app met the Commission’s threshold for monthly active users.
LinkedIn (Social network)
Windows PC OS (Operating system)