Google Will Charge Search Competitors for the Right to Be Chosen by EU Android Users

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Google will allow its European Android users to choose their own search engines, starting in 2020. The process will also include the tech giant charging its competitors, who will bid to be included as one of the default options alongside Google on the display screen that Android users will see when choosing their search engine.

European Android users will be able to select which search engine they want to use next year, according to a Friday announcement made by Google. The move arrives following a recent antitrust decision made by the European Union.

Last year, the European Commission fined Google 4.3 billion euros after deciding that the tech giant might be hindering its users’ choices by having its own applications pre-installed as the default option on its Androids.

Google responded by making changes to the Android operating system to allow the choice of competing search engines, but competitors will have to pay Google for the right to be a selectable search engine for the mobile operating system.

“Earlier this year, we presented Android users with an option to download additional search and browser apps in Google Play. This follows the changes we made to comply with the European Commission’s decision on Android,” said Google.

Starting in 2020, EU Android users will be presented with a screen when setting up their phones, which will give them the option to select either Google or three other search engines, depending on the country, as well as on which of the teach giant’s competitors win in a blind auction to be listed on the default screen.

The company says that its competitors will be able to “apply to be a part of the new choice screen,” and that “eligible search providers” will need to bid in an auction if they want to be listed as one of the three options alongside Google.

“In each country auction, search providers will state the price that they are willing to pay each time a user selects them from the choice screen in the given country,” elaborated Google on Android’s website.

“Each country will have a minimum bid threshold,” continued Google, “The three highest bidders that meet or exceed the bid threshold for a given country will appear in the choice screen for that country.”

The tech giant goes on to explain what its auction “winners” can expect Android users to see while setting up their phones.

The auction winners, and Google, will be ordered randomly in the choice screen. In the event of a tie, Google will allocate the slots randomly among the tied bidders. In the event that fewer than three eligible search providers meet or exceed the bid threshold, Google will fill any remaining slots randomly from the pool of eligible search providers. The pool of eligible providers will include those that applied to participate in the choice screen but did not submit bids.

Google also noted that Android users will choose their search engines within Chrome, if Chrome has already been installed as the user’s browser.

“Next year, we’ll introduce a new way for Android users to select a search provider to power a search box on their home screen and as the default in Chrome (if installed),” said Google. “As always, people can continue to customize and personalize their devices at any time after set up.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, on Parler at @alana, and on Instagram.


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