Smart digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Apple's Siri or Google Assistant are being used by more and more consumers. The use of voice control instead of screen and keyboard promises intuitive control of information technology, gains in convenience, and new uses for digital technology. At the same time, voice assistants create new risks for consumers. Apart from data protection and security risks, questions arise about how the recommendation systems of voice assistants will affect decisions and what consequences the market success of voice assistants will have for consumer choice and competition.
Against this background, ConPolicy investigated the effects of digital assistants on consumer interests and competition on behalf of the Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband (vzbv), using Amazon Alexa as an example. Methodologically, the report made use of a combination of expert interviews and literature analysis.
In a first step, the actor relationships between Alexa, online retailers, IoT providers, consumers and other parties were described. In a second step, the question of which effects on consumer interests have already been documented or can be expected in the future was explored. In a third step, the results were summarized for the position finding of the vzbv as well as for further investigations.