Google to allow Android users to pick a default search engine on their home screen

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August 21, 2019
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After facing scrutiny from the US regulators and EU’s staggering $5.1 billion fine, the search giant Google is finally letting the competition aboard its Android ecosystem. Google has said in a blog post that it will allow users to select a search provider that will power searches on the Android home screen and will act as a default search engine in the Chrome browser if it’s installed.

This will likely happen in 2020 after the changes that the company made to comply with the European Commission’s decision on Android. This new method will be represented by a new choice screen, which will appear to people who are setting up their Android phones for the first time.

It must be noted that Google will, however, charge search providers for the prestige of being presented on the Android choice screen and the company will hold auctions to determine who will make it on to the list. Google will use a first-price sealed auction to determine the slots and these auctions will be conducted on a per-country basis for the period of January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020. As per Google’s Android choice screen homepage,

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

While talking to Bloomberg, Eric Leandri, CEO of Qwant, a privacy-focused search engine, claimed that the move by Google is “a total abuse of the dominant position” to “ask for cash just for showing a proposal of alternatives”.

Google’s method for allowing more people on board its ecosystem seems to have raked even more conversation on whether it’s ethical for Google to charge companies every time a user makes a choice.

On the contrary, Google has maintained that it believes the auction process is a “fair and objective method” and “it allows search providers to decide what value they place on appearing in the choice screen and to bid accordingly”.

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