European Union (EU) antitrust regulators are investigating whether Google forces mobile device makers to install its standard voice assistant on Android devices. The information was released on Thursday (9) by MLex.
The agency, responsible for competition in the region, asked manufacturers to provide evidence that they were being forced by big tech to pre-install the Google Assistant, the news agency said. Inspectors also want to know if Google uses the certification process for new devices, as well as other strategies, to guarantee the exclusivity of its services and ban rivals from Android devices.
For now, Google declined to comment on the topic. The European Commission also decided not to comment on the matter. The final report must be presented in the 1st half of 2022, when the antitrust inspectors will be able to open new lines of investigation.
Fines for anti-competitive behavior
The EU has fined Google $9.5 billion for anti-competitive behavior over the past three years. In the 1st antitrust case, in 2017, the company was fined $2.7 billion for favoring its procurement service.
In 2018, European regulators imposed a record $5 billion fine for forcing smartphone makers to pre-install their services, such as Search and Maps, on Android phones and tablets.
The latest $1.7 billion penalty was imposed in 2019 for anti-competitive practices on the AdSense service, blocking advertising by rivals on the online search service.
voice assistant market
In June, EU antitrust regulators expressed concern over the market dominance of voice assistants by Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant. The projected global market for the sector is expected to double from 4.2 billion in 2020 to 8.4 billion devices in 2024, according to Statista.