EU regulators want to know whether voice assistants are giving companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Google an unfair advantage by limiting choice and collecting data on their users.
Are voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google Assistant stifling competition when they only let you stream music from a single service, or when then send you to a specific shopping site by default?
It’s a fair question, and one that European Union regulators are looking to answer as part of a “sweeping” investigation, Bloomberg reports.
The European Commission announced the massive probe on Thursday, with EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager warning of a “serious risk” that Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and similar voice assistants could be helping “big companies” such as Amazon, Apple, and Google “push markets beyond the tipping point where competition turns into monopoly.”
Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Alphabet’s Google Assistant are among the most popular voice assistant devices.”It sends an important message to powerful operators in these markets that we are watching them and that they need to do business in line with competition rules,” European Competition Commission Margrethe Vestager told a news conference.
The EU executive said its interest was prompted by the large amounts of user data involved in consumer “internet of things” devices and it wanted to make sure market players did not use their control of such data to hurt competition or thwart rivals.
The EU will seek information from some 400 firms around the world. It plans to publish a preliminary report in spring 2021 and follow up with final conclusions in summer 2022.