Australia to survey Google and Apple’s default web browsers and search engines
Australian competition authorities are investigating the link between browsers and search engines that consumers choose to use, and the link to default apps on operating systems like iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur.
With the News Media Bargaining Code sidelined, the Australian government has shifted its battle against the tech giant to the browser arena, keeping Google in its sights while putting Apple under the microscope.
Led by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), the new battle focuses on ‘choice and competition in Internet search and web browsers’.
The consumer watchdog launched a call for applications on Thursday, with a number of questions posed in a discussion paper [PDF], centered on the default settings of the Internet browser.
The document says more than 50% of users in Australia use Safari, followed by Chrome with 39% on smartphones and tablets. On desktop, Chrome is the most popular browser with a 62% market share. The ACCC notes that setting a default browser on an operating system, as well as a default search engine, appears to play an important role in which browser consumers end up using:
In particular, the ACCC has found that setting a product as the default option significantly increases the likelihood that a consumer will choose it. The value of being a default search service is demonstrated by the significant payments made by Google to Apple to make Google Search the default search engine on Apple Safari (estimated at US $ 12 billion in 2019) .
The document states that Google is “isolated” from dynamic competition thanks to high barriers to entry and expansion into the world of search engines. The ACCC says it is “seeking opinions on the impact of pre-installation and default settings in the provision of general search services and browsers.” You can read the report in complete here.