Google will stop charging search providers for chance to be Android default in Europe

Filed in Internet by on June 10, 2021 0 Comments

Following complaints from competitors about its pay-to-play approach, Google is changing how its Android search engine option screen works in Europe, according to a blog post. After Google was charged with a record $5 billion antitrust fine in 2018, the selection screen shows for customers when they initially set up an Android device. It’s supposed to provide users a choice of search engines. From September, the search engine behemoth will make it free to include search engines, as well as expand the amount of services available on the selection screen.

There are now just four search providers available on the selection screen. Google is one of them, and the other three are chosen in a sealed-bid auction. Each time a user selects them from the choice screen, search providers “indicate the amount that they are willing to pay,” and Google then selects the three highest bidders over a minimum bid threshold and shows them in a random sequence on the screen.

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Google will display up to 12 providers on its search selection screen after the revisions, which will apply to all devices sold in the European Economic Area and the United Kingdom, and none will have to pay to be featured. The top five search engines in a given country, as determined by the web analytics site StatCounter, will be listed in random order. Google will then display up to seven more suppliers in a random sequence under them. If there are more than seven other providers to pick from, Google claims it will present a random selection of seven anytime the options page appears.

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Despite the fact that providers will not be required to pay to be included, Google has outlined a number of eligibility requirements. Providers must provide a “general search service,” which means results cannot be limited to a certain topic, a free app on Google Play, and they must be properly localized in a nation to appear on its selection screen.

DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg cautiously welcomed the changes but chastised Google for failing to implement them three years ago. He added that they should be applied to more devices and in all countries, and that the selection screen should not be confined to the first time an Android device is set up or completely reset. Users will only view the decision page once per device during setup, according to Google’s FAQ. Weinberg slammed the auction procedure last year, calling it “fundamentally defective.”

However, EU officials told Bloomberg that the move was a “good” step that addressed complaints from competitors. The European Commission stated, “Users will have even more options to select from.”

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