Top senator fears Big Tech at home as Alexa, Nest dominate

Top senator fears Big Tech at home as Alexa Nest dominate

WASHINGTON: The U.S. Congress takes up the issue on Tuesday of yet another area where big tech firms — in this case, and Alphabet’s Google — dominate, this time in smart home devices where they battle smaller companies like speaker maker Sonos Inc.

The hearing takes place at a time of extraordinary interest in tougher antitrust enforcement, much of it focused on the biggest U.S. technology companies. One result has been a series of investigations and several federal and state lawsuits filed against Google and Facebook as well as a long list of antitrust bills.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, who chairs the antitrust subcommittee, is hoping to act before the existing tech giants, in this case Amazon and Google, establish themselves as unassailable.

In the smart speaker market, she cited data that showed that Amazon was at 53 percent market share while Google was at 31 percent.

“This is an area where we can look forward and see around the corner and not just respond years later,” she said, noting that people are buying everything from smart speakers to smart door locks and more. “We know that this is a growing market.”

Smart home technology can be smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Nest, security systems or televisions.

Witnesses will include Ryan McCrate, Amazon’s associate general counsel, and Google Senior Public Policy Director Wilson White, along with Sonos Chief Legal Officer Eddie Lazarus.

Last year, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence told a congressional committee that Google and Amazon used their dominance of search and online retail, respectively, to subsidize the smart speaker market and, potentially, dominate the market for other smart home devices.


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