Last Updated on September 10, 2021 by Calvin C.
Google is no stranger to controversy and allegations of anti-competitive behavior have been raised numerous times in the past. In a latest development, Google Assistant faces EU antitrust investigation. This is because the Google forces it’s product to be the default voice assistant in Android smartphones, putting competitors at a huge disadvantage.
Inquiries, investigations and lawsuits have cast a shadow on the tech giant. The company has been accused of capitalizing on its huge marketshare to thwart any upcoming competition.
The EU is at the fore-front in calling Google to order, acting as a voice of the voiceless. Some of the concerns raised are actually taken for granted by ordinary consumers, while silently giving Google an edge in the market.
For Android users, using Google’s applications like Chrome, Google Search or Google’s Assistant is a norm. It’s easy to become oblivious to the existence of alternative apps because Google makes these apps default in Android smartphones.
Consequently, for other developers to be noticed is a mammoth task because consumers are already conditioned to gravitate towards Google’s apps.
The EU has called manufacturers to come forward and provide any evidence of anti-competitive practices by Google.
According to Reuters, the Commission 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. “
In addition, the Commission also wants to know if manufacturers of smart devices are prohibited by Google from installing a voice assistant of their choice.
Google gave a response to some of the issues via email:
“Manufacturers can choose which voice assistants to install on their devices and users can also choose which assistants to use and install, ” read the email.
Judging from their track record, it is best to hear what manufacturers have to say so that transparency is established and everyone has a fair shot.
In defense, Google can easily highlight how other manufacturers like Samsung, Xiaomi and others also force their respective voice assistants on users by default.
Samsung, for example, has been blasted for shipping their phones with bloatware, creating a copy of every Android app on the phone. Their voice assistant, Bixby, cannot be removed by consumers and this is seen as unfair practice for other competitors in the same market.
Currently, the market for voice assistants is dominated by 3 companies:
- Amazon – Alexa
- Apple – Siri
- Google – Google Assistant
In the event that Google is found to be guilty, the company will be slapped with a huge fine of up to 10% of their global turnover.
Voice assistant technology is set to rise and according to Statista, by 2024 the number of voice assistant units will reach 8.4 billion units, which is more than the world’s population.
The question of privacy continues to come to the surface because it’s easy for these big tech companies to gather valuable user profiles via virtual assistants.
Nothing stops them from exchanging notes on how best to capitalize on voice assistant technology, as long as it leaves the rest of the competition in the dust and makes them profitable.
Apple is currently addressing concerns raised by alert privacy advocates because people are becoming more aware of the need to protect their data.
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