Sonos is suing Google, and in its lawsuits, it's hinted the company exhibited anti-competitive behavior by forcing Sonos to create products that only offer one voice assistant -- either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa -- at a time to consumers. Now, Congress wants to talk to Sonos.
House antitrust leaders have invited the speaker company to an open hearing, scheduled for 17 January. Sonos CEO Patrick Spence is set to appear. It'll be the latest development in the US House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust investigation into big tech companies like Google. The CEO of PopSockets and Tile's vice president and general counsel will appear at the hearing, as well.
They'll serve as witnesses before the antitrust panel, which has been hearing from several companies in Silicon Valley over the past seven months in an attempt to learn whether the largest tech companies are too dominant. So far, lawmakers have talked to representatives from Facebook, Google, and Amazon. According to a press release, more witnesses could be called to testify Friday.
From what we can tell, the hearings have focused on the power of platforms and user data collection practices.
Sonos claimed in its lawsuits that Google copied its patented speaker technology and has been using it in Google Home and Pixel products. It also suggested Google subsidises its devices to sell them at a cheaper price, and it ultimately uses those same devices to collect data from buyers.
Sonos even told The New York Times that, when it tried to make a smart speaker that could support multiple voice assistant platforms, both Google and Amazon told Sonos it had to make users choose one when setting up the speaker. Sonos said that Google threatened to yank its Google Assistant from Sonos' speakers if it's ever made available alongside a competitor like Alexa.
Google disputed Sonos' allegations and said it's "disappointed" that Sonos went the lawsuit route rather than continue negotiations.