A Preliminary EU Commission Report Claims that Digital Assistants from Apple, Amazon & Google may violate Anti-Competitive Practices
The EU Antitrust Commission is once again targeting top U.S. tech companies. EU antitrust regulators said on Wednesday that the growing market power of Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Alphabet’s Google Assistant has triggered concerns of potential anti-competitive practices.
The comments from the European Commission come after a year-long inquiry into voice assistants and other internet-connected devices, to which among more than 200 companies responded.
Similar inquiries in the past into sectors such as e-commerce, pharmaceuticals, financial services and energy have led to cases against companies and hefty fines.
Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant are the most popular voice- assistant devices in Europe, with the global market expected to double to 8.4 billion devices from 4.2 billion between 2020 and 2024, according to Statista.
European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told reporters: "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."
Vestager said it was too early to say if the inquiry would lead to cases against companies but it was possible in future if the anti-competitive practices were confirmed.
The EU antitrust watchdog said respondents cited worries over certain exclusivity and tying practices related to voice assistants such as producers of smart devices being prevented from installing a second voice assistant on one device.
A second concern was about voice assistant providers promoting their own services or those of third parties via default settings on devices, thus restricting rivals.
The Commission said the findings of the inquiry would be open to a 12-week long public consultation ending Sept. 1, with a final report due in the first half of 2022. For more, read the full Reuters report.
With European tech companies unable to invent their own native platforms to compete with U.S. companies, the next best thing is to force U.S. platforms to integrate competing European software, according to the EU Commission's philosophy.