The European Commission publishes findings on consumer Internet of Things sector inquiry

CIO Review Europe | Thursday, December 23, 2021

The European Commission has published the findings of its competition sector inquiry into the consumer Internet of Things. It identifies potential competition concerns in the rapidly growing markets for IoT related products and services in the European Union.

FREMONT, CA: The consumer Internet of Things sector is getting more and more integrated into our daily lives. The final conclusions of the industry inquiry  back up the issues raised in the preliminary report. This is a market with significant entry barriers, a small number of vertically integrated firms, and concerns about data access, interoperability, and exclusivity practice, to name a few issues. Experts ensure that the conclusions of the sector inquiry are likely to inform the Commission's future enforcement and regulatory actions. They also anticipate that it will encourage businesses to take proactive steps to address such concerns.

The documents released present the Commission's findings, which take into consideration the comments received during the public consultation on the preliminary report from June 2021. Stakeholders such as top consumer IoT companies, smart device makers, creative content service providers, associations, and telecoms carriers have contributed comments.

The key findings of the Consumer IoT sector inquiry include the following points, which are also included in the preliminary report: (I) the features of consumer IoT products and services, (ii) the characteristics of competition in these markets, and (iii) the main areas of possible concern voiced by stakeholders in respect to the current functioning of consumer IoT markets, as well as their future prospects.

The conclusions of the sector inquiry point out that, in the fast-developing consumer IoT, a growing trend is witnessed towards the usage of voice assistants as user interfaces for interacting with other smart devices and consumer IoT services.

The majority of the stakeholders who took part in the sector inquiry suggest that the cost of technological investment, which is particularly high in the market for voice assistants, is one of the key barriers is to expanding in the industry. Another significant impediment to entry in the industry is the competitive environment, as several stakeholders have expressed difficulty competing with vertically integrated corporations that have created their own ecosystems both within and beyond the consumer IoT sector- eg. Google, Amazon or Apple. These companies decide the methods for integrating smart devices and services in a consumer IoT system since they provide the most prevalent smart and mobile device operating systems as well as the leading voice assistants.

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