Android users in the European Union will no longer be forced to make use of Google as their default search engine.
This is not of Google’s own good will but rather a product of the antitrust ruling made by the EU in July 2018.
Within that lengthy ruling, the EU found that Google had been tying its search engine to its operating system. Under EU anti-trust laws, this is illegal.
Which brings us neatly to today, where Google has announced that Android users in the EU would be able to choose a preferred search engine when setting up their handset effective 1st March 2020.
Upon making a choice, the default search engine will be set and the provider’s app will also be downloaded where possible.
This will be called the “choice screen” and the search engine options displayed will differ from country to country. With that having been said, DuckDuckGo will be offered as a choice in all EU countries. A full list of all the options can be found here.
Strangely, it’s not users selecting which search engines appear in the choice screen.
Instead, search providers would need to bid in an auction to appear on the choice screen.
“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. The three highest bidders will appear in the choice screen for that country. The provider that is selected by the user will pay the amount of the fourth-highest bid,” reads a statement on the Android website.
It should be noted that the bid made by a firm would only be payable once a user selects the service. Android state that there are no fees associated with appearing on the choice screen.
There are also stipulations to participating in the auction including being a general search provider, offering localisation and having an app in the Google Play Store.
It’s an awful lot of work to comply with the EU’s ruling which is why we don’t suspect the choice screen would make it onto devices outside of the US.
We’re also mindful of the fact that Google is taking a fee from the competition to appear on its choice screen.
With that having been said, there’s nothing stopping folks from selecting Google as their default on the choice screen and then switching at a later stage.