EU to probe Siri, Alexa, and friends in new sweeping inquiry

HomePod top view
HomePod top view (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • The EU is launching a sweeping new inquiry.
  • It will probe voice assistants like Siri and Alexa.
  • EU watchdogs are concerned about competition turning into a monopoly.

The EU is launching a sweeping inquiry into the internet of things and voice assistants like Siri and Alexa.

As reported by Bloomberg:

Voice assistants such as Apple Inc.'s Siri and Inc.'s Alexa are at the center of a sweeping European Union antitrust inquiry into how Silicon Valley uses data to gain a tight grip on growing markets. EU watchdogs already see signs that tech giants might be restricting access to data or making products that don't work well with those made by other companies, the European Commission said in a statement on Thursday announcing the probe into the so-called internet of things.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told reporters that big companies using their power could "very quickly" turn markets from competition into a monopoly. Vestager said that voice assistants were at "the center of it all", specifically naming Siri and Alexa:

Voice assistants are "the center of it all," she said. "That could be Apple's Siri, Google's assistant, Amazon's Alexa." A voice assistant "changes how you interact with things" because users may only "be presented with an option" instead of the full choice of products they'd get standing in a store, she said.

According to the report, the EU is seeking information from 400 different companies, regarding everything from voice assistants to fridges, washing machines, and smart TVs. Its findings will be published next year, with a followup in 2022. Vestager continued:

"We see interoperability is of the essence if this market is to remain open and contestable"

The report notes one such aspect of the issue, voice requests, which often direct users to singular services, for example, until very recently Apple's HomePod has only offered music playback through Apple Music.

You can read the full report here.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9