Alphabet Inc’s Google is being investigated by EU antitrust regulators on whether it may be forcing device makers to use Google Assistant as the default voice assistant on Android devices, news agency MLex reported on Thursday.
The European Commission in June said its sector inquiry into internet-connected devices drew concerns from respondents 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 a device.
The most popular voice assistant devices in Europe are Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant, with the global market expected to double to 8.4 billion devices from 4.2 billion between 2020 and 2024, according to market research company Statista.
The EU competition enforcer has asked device makers to provide any evidence that they are being forced to pre-install Google Assistant and if Google wants exclusivity by banning
rivals from Android devices, MLex said.
Google had no immediate comment. The Commission declined to comment and referred to EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager’s news conference in June on the sector inquiry.
The Commission also wants to know if Google may be using its certification process for new devices to ensure exclusivity by another means, and the importance of the Google Play Store for
different ecosystems, MLex said.
The regulator is also checking whether users may be able to use at least two voice assistants at the same time, the news agency said.
Google has already been fined more than €8 billion by the Commission in the last decade in three separate cases.
The Commission has said it will issue a final report on its sector inquiry in the first half of 2022 after which it may open investigations. – Reuters