The EU antitrust authorities said on Wednesday that the growing market power of Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri and Alphabet’s Google Assistant has raised concerns about potential anti-competitive behavior. Connected devices responded by more than 200 companies. Similar investigations in industries such as e-commerce, pharmaceuticals, financial services, and energy have historically led to lawsuits and huge fines against companies.
According to Statista data, between 2020 and 2024, the number of the most popular voice assistants in the European and world markets is expected to increase from 4.2 billion to 8.4 billion devices. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told reporters: “We have seen signs that certain methods that we are very familiar with may lead to ‘gatekeepers’.”
Vestager said that it is too early to say whether the investigation will lead to legal action against these companies, but if anti-competitive behavior is proven, it may do so in the future.
They said the interviewees expressed concern about certain practices. Voice assistants such as smart device manufacturers cannot install a second voice assistant on the same device. The second problem is that voice assistant providers use default settings on the device to advertise their own or third-party services, which limits competition. The third problem is related to the large amount of data available to voice assistants and smart device providers, and the fourth problem is related to the lack of interoperability between devices, with proprietary technology as the de facto standard.
Google, Apple, and Amazon didn’t immediately respond to the requests for comment. Vestager proposed strict new rules, called the “Digital Market Act”, which will address some of these rules. The project must be discussed with EU legislators and EU countries before being implemented next year. The committee stated that the findings of the survey will be open to the 12-week public consultation that ends on September 1, and the final report is scheduled to be released in the first half of 2022.