Google voice assistant in new EU antitrust investigation: report

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Alphabet Inc’s Google is under investigation by EU antitrust regulators over whether it could force device makers to use Google Assistant as the default voice assistant on Android devices, reported Thursday the MLex news agency.

The European Commission said in June that its sector inquiry into internet-connected devices had raised concerns among respondents about some exclusivity and tied selling practices related to voice assistants such as producers of smart devices being barred from ” install a second voice assistant on a device.

The most popular voice assistants 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 the company. Statista market research.

The European competition authority has asked device makers to provide any evidence that they are obligated to pre-install Google Assistant and whether Google wants exclusivity by banning Android devices from its competitors, MLex said.

Google did not immediately comment. The Commission declined to comment and referred to a press conference by EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager in June on the sector inquiry.

The Commission is also interested in whether Google could use its certification process for new devices to ensure exclusivity in another way, and the importance of the Google Play Store for different ecosystems, MLex said.

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The regulator is also checking whether users can use at least two voice assistants at the same time, the news agency said.

Google has already been fined more than 8 billion euros ($ 9.5 billion) by the Commission over the past decade in three separate cases.

The Commission has announced that it will publish a final report on its sector inquiry in the first half of 2022, after which it may open investigations.

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