European Union regulators are inquiring information from 400 companies to find out if there is a need to start antitrust investigations into Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.
The reason behind this inquiry is for the EU to understand if the market shares and control of data by these voice assistants are hurting competitors from coming up with alternative solutions. Antitrust investigations take place against popular companies that become huge enough to gain control of the market in such a way that it does not allow competition to thrive.
European Competition Commission Margrethe Vestager announced in a press conference today regarding the inquiry:
“It sends an important message to powerful operators in these market that we are watching them and that they need to do business in line with competition rules,”
“Interoperability is of the essence if we want to make this market accessible,”
If any of the companies are fined for antitrust behavior, they are fined 10% of their global revenue, which can be massive in the case of companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google.
There are not many competitors available to the voice assistants available from the likes of Amazon, Apple, and Google. Even Microsoft’s Cortana has failed to gain traction against these voice assistants. The most popular assistants usually ship on the company’s own hardware, which makes it difficult to understand how an antitrust inquiry would play out. On smartphones, all the major voice assistants have their offerings available, with varying degrees of integration, but on smart speakers and displays, it is hard to imagine competitors getting any space.
The European Union’s antitrust commission has been very busy lately with a number of complaints against Apple and Google. Check out our on-going coverage of open investigations and complaints by the commission: