Google Search Choice Screen will be free for competing search engines

Google may be the most popular search engine in the world, but it’s definitely not the only one. There are several around, some trying to survive in their local markets against the might of Google’s resources. In Europe, the tech giant has been legally compelled to present Android users with a screen of choice, allowing them to select whatever browser and search app they want. However, this choice was not free for these search engines, but Google is now removing the barrier that required these search engines to pay to be tied on this list of screens of choice.

An antitrust ruling by the European Commission in 2019 prevented Google from bundling Chrome and Search into its Android phones. Instead of just letting users scramble over what to use, Google has implemented a choice screen that will allow them to select what to use from a list. While this meets the letter of the law, the requirement to be even on this list may not have been in the spirit of fair competition.

In order to be on this list, search engines will need to win an auction, which means spending money. This naturally favors large companies like Microsoft and Yahoo, but is a huge barrier to entry for local search engines and nonprofits. Google says that after discussion with the European Commission, it is finally remove this system.

That doesn’t mean, however, that anyone and everyone can be on that screen of choice. Google goes implement certain criteria for who comes at the top of the list, especially the top five search engines in a particular country based on StatCounter numbers. There will also be seven other options for General Search Services and the twelve will be ordered at random.

Google says this change will be implemented from September for Android devices sold within the European Union. While this change was forced across the region, it has not been adopted in other major markets like the United States, where Google is also under antitrust review.


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Rosemary S. Bishop