EU says smarthome 'gatekeepers' like Apple may harm competition

Posted:
in General Discussion
The European Union has issued a preliminary report into smarthomes and the Internet of Things, saying that Apple, Google, and others could prove to be anticompetitive.

Apple's view of a smart home with the Internet of Things
Apple's view of a smart home with the Internet of Things


As the European Commission waits on Apple's response to the charge of breaching EU competition law, it has separately been investigating smart homes. A preliminary report into the Internet of Things concludes that there may be anticompetitive practices from a small number of firms, including Apple.

"When we launched this sector inquiry, we were concerned that there might be a risk of gatekeepers emerging in this sector," said Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, in a statement. "We were worried that they could use their power to harm competition, to the detriment of developing businesses and consumers."

"From the first results published today, it appears that many in the sector share our concerns," she continued. "And fair competition is needed to make the most of the great potential of the Internet of Things for consumers in their daily lives."

The preliminary report does not say that Apple, or others, are in breach of competition laws. It says that other companies have reported that Amazon, Google and "to a slightly lesser extent" Apple, have emerged as the main competitors in the field.

"A large number of respondents, across all consumer IoT segments, point out that the main obstacle to developing new products and services is the lack of ability to compete with Google, Amazon and Apple," says the full report.

"These players have become the leading technology companies," it continues, "and built their own ecosystems within and beyond the consumer IoT sector by combining their own, and integrating third-party, products and services into a branded consumer offering with a large number of users."

Following its initial consultation, the EU is concerned about fostering "interoperability among different brands," which it describes as "important as it allows users to build IoT ecosystems with heterogeneous products, enhancing consumer choice and preventing lock-in into a certain provider's products."

Having solicited responses from companies during the research for the preliminary report, the European Commission has now begun a public consultation. Interested parties have until September 1, 2021, to submit comments.

"This analysis will feed into our future enforcement and regulatory action," said Vesteger, "so we look forward to receiving further feedback from all interested stakeholders in the coming months."

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,586member
    Gatekeepers like....hmmm...The European Union itself?  



    chaickaandrewj5790mike1rob53entropysFileMakerFellerbaconstangwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 2 of 34
    sdw2001 said:
    Gatekeepers like....hmmm...The European Union itself?  


    Oh no… government is a gooooooood gatekeeper…. /s

    FileMakerFellerwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 34
    chaickachaicka Posts: 237member
    Gosh...I have been on Z-Wave and ZigBee products for years and honestly, the lack of deep investment on R&D to improve the shortfalls and expand functionalities to be more holistic matching lifestyles and use-cases of its audience have driven me away from them progressively. 7 years on Fibaro Z-Wave and 5 years on Philips Hue - all the fragmentation, piecemeal and tons of man hours spent to pick up coding and various skills just to make a decent home automation is enough. HomeKit came along in the last few years and slowly but progressively improve and expand with ease of getting started and using shortcuts to easily create automations - is just so much easier for new consumers jumping into home automation.

    And these IoT players blame the big tech firms for their failures to invest in R&D, expand its talent pools, etc to compete when they have head-start for years (if not for a decade)? Yet, when they have investors fundings during the beginning years, they spent huge on (somewhat false or never materialise) marketing, nice trips and benefits, paying the top execs handsomely, etc.

    And that's anti-competitive behaviour? Wow...this era's leaders and regulators sure amaze me every now and then.
    edited June 9 DogpersonstompyFileMakerFellerJWSCbaconstangDetnatorwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 34
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,679member
    Sorry. Gatekeepers are probably pretty essential here. Can you imagine the issues if every 4th-tier electronics manufacturer or app developer started to offer smart home products with no common standard or protections. At least Amazon and Google have some level of compatibility and standards, even if they don't focus on privacy and security as much as Apple.
    rob53StrangeDaysentropysFileMakerFellerbaconstangwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 34
    maxikingmaxiking Posts: 9member
    Well, Amazon peventing 3rd parties like Sonos from integrating with Drop-In and Voicecalls is a clear anti-competitive behaviour.
    And the requirement to have an AppleTV or Homepod in the house in order to use Siri on non-Apple devices (as pointed out in the keynote) is also questionable.
    I think government has a role as a referee in these situations and it is hard to deny that the power of a handful of companies on our daily lives is bigger than ever before in history.
    They need to be regulated and - above all - taxed in a way that levels the playing field compared to smaller companies and benefits society in the long term…
    edited June 9 elijahggatorguyavon b7Japhey
  • Reply 6 of 34
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,562member
    maxiking said:
    Well, Amazon peventing 3rd parties like Sonos from integrating with Drop-In and Voicecalls is a clear anti-competitive behaviour.
    And the requirement to have an AppleTV or Homepod in the house in order to use Siri on non-Apple devices (as pointed out in the keynote) is also questionable.
    I think government has a role as a referee in these situations and it is hard to deny that the power of a handful of companies on our daily lives is bigger than ever before in history.
    They need to be regulated and - above all - taxed in a way that levels the playing field compared to smaller companies and benefits society in the long term…
    Absolutely wrong. The government needs to stay out of things that happen in my home. The US Constitution and many laws forbid the government and police force from doing anything inside my home without consent or a court order. If I want to buy a Ring system, I'm buying a Ring system and only using what Ring has to offer (I don't have one). If I want to use everything from Apple, then I'll use what Apple approves and works with. I could care less what other companies are selling. They do NOT have any rights to anything I do inside my home. Plain and simple. The government is never a referee in most of these cases, they simply get involved to try and grab money (especially the EU). As for Amazon preventing a third-party vendor, that's for Amazon users to complain directly to Amazon about. Apple users complain all the time directly to Apple, we don't need or want the government getting involved. Apple has enough problems getting into new areas without government agencies trying to keep them out. As for the money-grabbing EU they should worry more about their lack of technological growth and ideas than trying to force successful to pay them more in taxes. All this does if raise the cost of Apple products and services to the consumer. Apple isn't going to take a loss but consumers will while the EU gets their unjustified cut of American technology.  
    omar moralesFileMakerFellerJWSCbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 34
    stompystompy Posts: 362member
    chaicka said:
    Gosh...I have been on Z-Wave and ZigBee products for years and honestly, the lack of deep investment on R&D to improve the shortfalls and expand functionalities to be more holistic matching lifestyles and use-cases of its audience have driven me away from them progressively....

    And these IoT players blame the big tech firms for their failures to invest in R&D, expand its talent pools, etc to compete when they have head-start for years (if not for a decade)? Yet, when they have investors fundings during the beginning years, they spent huge on (somewhat false or never materialise) marketing, nice trips and benefits, paying the top execs handsomely, etc.

    And that's anti-competitive behaviour? Wow...this era's leaders and regulators sure amaze me every now and then.
    Agree 100%. At some point, all the competing smart home technologies became a barrier to entry. Imagine a non-nerd trying to set up their home with multiple, competing smart home products.

    The EU, apparently, would like to kneecap any company(ies) that want to help consumers out of the current "smarthome" mess.
    edited June 9 watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 34
    maxikingmaxiking Posts: 9member
    Bla bla. This is about the EU.

    You might be fine in the US that the top 20 billionaires pay less than 4% in taxes, but citizens in other parts of the world want their governments to run fairer societies.

    That includes billionaires paying the same or more taxes than the average Joe and large global corporations paying the same or more taxes than a small brick and mortar business that is the backbone of the local community.

    And the same concept appies to “rigged” markets, unfair market entry barriers and breaches of data protection laws.

    Ayn Rand, Adam Smith and Milton Friedman are long dead and the level of inequality their theories have created in the US simply displays that they are basically wrong. 

    I want a competitive landscape like in the car industry, where a dozen players bring innovation, choice and meaningful employment opportunities, not a Google/Apple duopoly for any kind of consumer tech, where you can’t choose a 3rd party product without sacrifices in usability and features.

    Enough said. I am out of here, while applauding the EU for taking the lead here again!
    muthuk_vanalingamavon b7
  • Reply 9 of 34
    diz_geekdiz_geek Posts: 36member
    Isn’t this what the Matter initiative is supposed to help with?  Building a standard for interoperability to reduce the need for gatekeepers?
    uktechiemattinozFileMakerFellerwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 10 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,020member
    Aren't the players cooperating to level the playing field? That's what Thread is about. Google, Apple, Zigbee, Amazon, Qualcomm, Eve, LG, and several dozen other companies all cooperating on a standard that allows devices from multiple manufacturers to work on any of the smart platforms

    uktechieDogpersontmayFileMakerFellerbaconstangJWSC
  • Reply 11 of 34
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,406member
    The EU can solve this by just banning all products that support the Google or Apple ecosystems. Good luck!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 34
    j2fusionj2fusion Posts: 117member
    Gatekeepers, hmmm, let’s see.  A look at the battery power tool industry is all you need to do to see what happens if you don’t have standards.  Most of the manufacturers uses a different incompatible battery. Even Craftsman (Sears) and Craftsman (Black & Decker) use a different battery. It’s an example where there is not one manufacturer that is dominant enough to set a standard. The fact that Apple/Google/Amazon can is good for the consumer. 
    baconstangwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 13 of 34
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,406member
    The diversity of USB cables was good for competition… then the EU banned that. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 34
    maxikingmaxiking Posts: 9member
    j2fusion said:
    Even Craftsman (Sears) and Craftsman (Black & Decker) use a different battery. It’s an example where there is not one manufacturer that is dominant enough to set a standard. The fact that Apple/Google/Amazon can is good for the consumer. 

    Imagine there were only 2 battery manufacturers in the world. They also produce a number of power tools.
    What if their batteries would only provide their full power and capacity if used with their own tools.
    And BTW, both Bosch and Metabo have now opened their battery tech to other vendors… a Metabo CAS battery also powers Fein, Maffell, Starmix and other super specialized ProTools. That’s what we need!!!

    edited June 9 uktechie
  • Reply 15 of 34
    hammeroftruthhammeroftruth Posts: 1,051member
    I guess the EU wants more money out of Apple and others because another country in the union is gonna default again, like Greece. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 34
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,304member
    Harm competition? Harm WHAT competition? Europe has nothing to compete with Apple, Google, Amazon, and the rest. Never did, never will. Who is the European equivalent of Apple or Google that may be harmed? 
    MacProwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 17 of 34
    iadlibiadlib Posts: 74member
    They’re creating an open standard. How’s that gate keeping. Apple’s doing its best to provide quantum leaps in software that equal its hardware and people are too paranoid to notice they’re avoiding most of the dystopian storylines that we would have otherwise. 
    FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 34
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,942member
    Not like the EU is filled with the best and brightest. This coming from a group of people who never made a thing in this world other than what ends up on the toilet.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 34
    sully54sully54 Posts: 101member
    Three competing companies coming together to create a common and open platform that ensures interoperability is the opposite of gatekeeping. 
    FileMakerFellerbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 34
    maxikingmaxiking Posts: 9member
    maestro64 said:
    Not like the EU is filled with the best and brightest. This coming from a group of people who never made a thing in this world other than what ends up on the toilet.


    The EU is a bigger market, with more consumers, better quality of life, longer life expectancy, less inequality, less child poverty, less gun violence, better education and more manufacturing.

    The EU itself is the most consumer friendly regulator in the world, be it data protection, food quality or consumer rights. It is also the biggest financer of science and research in the world, which explains why Google, Apple and others have big research operations for AI, chip design and algorithms in Europe. 

    Fun fact: if you take the top 2% of incomes and wealth out of the equation, the US is on the same level of income for the bottom 98% as the EU.

    The US have more billionaires, while Europeans are happier, healthier and better educated.


    DAalsethavon b7baconstangmuthuk_vanalingam
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