Competing search engines won’t have to pay Google to be Android by default, only in the EU

The reluctance of European competition regulators has led Google to make a fairly significant change in how search works on Android smartphones. The company said it will stop charging competing search platforms to become the default on Android devices, but only in Europe for now. “We have had constructive discussions with the European Commission for many years on how to promote even more choice on Android devices, while ensuring that we can continue to invest in the Android platform and provide it for free to long term, ”Google said in a blog post.

The move appears to be linked to a 2018 ruling by EU regulators, which fined Google $ 5 billion for violating antitrust laws. The company has been accused of abusing its market dominance with Android by bundling Google search and the Chrome browser on all Android devices. Although regulators have asked the company to end its “illegal conduct” within 90 days of the decision.

The company said yesterday’s decision came after “further comments” from the European Commission and that it would respond to the Choice screen on Android. This screen also only appears in the EU and was part of the 2018 ruling. It allows users to choose any search engine they want by default, but Google could charge its competitors to appear on this screen. company used an auction process similar to its advertising protocols to put the three highest bidders on this screen.

With yesterday’s change, participation in this screen is now free and it will include up to 12 search engines. The top five will be the most popular search providers in a particular country, based on data from web analytics company StatCounter. “Up to seven remaining eligible general search services will be displayed under the initial five services, similarly ordered at random. If there are more than seven general search services left in a given country, the seven services to be displayed on the choice screen in that country will be selected at random each time the choice screen is displayed, “Google noted. in a separate article.

The change, while only relevant for devices sold in the EU at present, could be significant for other markets as well. The pre-installation of Google’s own applications and services is a bone of contention that has been brought before regulators in several countries. Governments could see the EU move as a precedent for what Google should be doing around the world.

That said, the data from Statistics counter shows that Google had 92.2% of the global search market share in May this year, with the closest competitor Bing having just over 2%. So this change is unlikely to really affect the business of the company, now that it has essentially become synonymous with the Internet.

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Rosemary S. Bishop