Internet of Things sector survey: Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant in the spotlight in Europe

The European Union is once again considering whether the big technologies are not taking too large a share of the digital market, this time in the field of connected devices. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has announced the launch of a sector inquiry to ensure that the companies behind smart devices and digital assistants do not create monopolies that could threaten consumer rights in the EU.

In the viewfinder of the Commission, Siri from Apple, Google Assistant, and Alexa from Amazon, but also Magenta from Deutsche Telekom, considered as the voice assistants “at the center of everything”. Although these technologies have great potential, the commissioner warned that they should be deployed with caution. “We will only see all the benefits – low price, wide choice, innovative products and services – if the markets for these devices remain open and competitive. And the problem is that competition in digital markets can be fragile, ”said Margrethe Vestager.

In Europe, the total number of smart home devices was around 108 million at the end of 2019 and is expected to reach 184 million devices by 2023. The value of the home automation market is expected to nearly double over the course of over the next four years, to reach over 27 billion euros.

Internet of Things sector survey: Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant in the spotlight in Europe

Make sure you don’t fall into a closed ecosystem

With Internet of Things products performing tasks ranging from fitness tracking to unlocking front doors, connected devices are set to become an important part of users’ daily lives. Margrethe Vestager stressed the need to “act in good time” to avoid the monopoly of the big players, which would prevent consumers from making a fair choice when purchasing these devices. “We have seen this type of behavior before,” she recalled. “This is nothing new. We, therefore, know that there is a risk that some of these players will become gatekeepers of the Internet of Things, with the power to make or break other businesses ”.

It is also essential to ensure that consumers do not find themselves locked in a closed ecosystem due to the lack of interoperability between providers of smart products, according to the Executive Vice President of the European Commission.

“For us to get the most out of the Internet of Things, our smart devices need to communicate,” explained Margrethe Vestager. “If devices from different companies don’t work together, consumers could end up stranded with a single provider. And be limited to what that supplier has to offer ”.

Last year, Amazon launched the voice interoperability initiative with thirty other companies, including Bose, Microsoft, and Sonos, to name a few. The companies participating in the project are committed to working together to ensure that customers have the freedom to interact with multiple voice services on a single device.