EU antitrust regulators have raised concerns of potential anti-trust competitive practices over Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant market dominance.
Over the past year, EU regulators have been processing inquiries into and investigating technology companies. Apple, for instance, was recently accused of antitrust practices that limited people from accessing other streaming platforms, and the European Consumer Group showed support to these claims. The concerns and comments by EU regulators come after its year-long inquiry into internet-connected devices, voice assistant and feedback from at least 200 companies.
EU antitrust regulators, in the past, have had inquiries into the competitive practices of businesses and companies across sectors like energy, pharmaceuticals, financial services, e-commerce, etc. These inquiries have either led to hefty fines or strong cases against these establishments.
Leading the European market (and extensively, the global market) in voice assistant technology and devices are Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant and according to Statista, the global market is expected to double to 8.4 billion devices from 4.2 billion between 2020 and 2024.
European Competition Commissioner – Margarethe Vestager told reporters that “We saw indications that some practices that we know too well may lead to tipping and to the emergence of gatekeepers and from the preliminary results published today, it appears that our concerns are shared by many players”.
The European Competition Commissioner has not mentioned if the inquiries into these companies will lead to anything like hefty fines or court cases. She mentioned that it is still too early to forecast the outcome of the inquiry and that the outcome of the inquiry will be a 12-week long public consultation ending on September 1st. She also revealed that a final report will be made ready by the first half of 2022.
Among the concerns raised by EU antitrust regulators, the inability of users to install a second voice assistant was the major concern. According to them, respondents cited worries over certain exclusivity and typing practices that are related to these voice assistants.
Another concern raised by regulators was that providers of voice assistants use them to promote only their own services and restrict rivals from getting to end users.
Apple and Google are yet to respond to these claims.
European Competition Commissioner – Margarethe Vestager is proposing new rules aimed at eradicating these practices. These rules are known as the Digital Market Act and are expected to be implemented next year.