Amazon’s Alexa Alexa, Apple Siri and Alphabet’s growth in the Google Assistant market has raised concerns about anti-competitive practices, EU antitrust regulators said on Wednesday.
The European Commission’s comments came after a year of research on voice assistants and other Internet-connected devices, and more than 200 companies responded.
Consultations in sectors such as e-commerce, pharmaceuticals, financial services and energy in the past have led to lawsuits and heavy fines against companies.
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Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant are the most popular voice assistants in Europe, and between 2020 and 2024, the global market expects to double 8.4 billion devices between 2020 and 2024.
“We saw signs that some of the practices we know are excessive and could lead to the creation of goalkeepers,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told Reporters.
“And based on preliminary results released today, it seems that many players share our concerns,” he said.
Vestager said it is too early to say whether the investigation will lead to cases against companies, but that it was possible in the future if anti-competitive practices were confirmed.
The anti-monopoly dog in the EU said the respondent mentioned concerns about certain exclusivity and linking practices related to voice assistants, such as smart device manufacturers preventing the installation of a second voice assistant on a device.
The second concern was that voice assistive providers were promoting their services or third-party services through the default settings on their devices, limiting rivals.
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The third concern focused on the accumulation of data available to voice assistants and smart device providers, and the fourth concern was the lack of interoperability between devices, as proprietary technology acted as a de facto standard.
Google, Apple and Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Vestager has proposed tough rules known as the law of digital markets, which targets some of these practices. The draft should be disseminated to EU parliamentarians and EU countries before it can be implemented, probably next year.
The commission said the findings of the investigation will be open for public consultation by 12 weeks by the end of September. 1, with the latest report in the first half of 2022.
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