Android getting new search provider option in EU, like we won’t choose Google

Google Pixel 3a Purple-ish Google Logo

Google has revealed its plans for a new search provider option which will appear on EU Android phones next year. The new option, which will appear during the setup process of a new Android phone, will allow users to select choose a default provider rather than Google being the immediate default.

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The new addition is being implemented following an EU Commission anti-trust ruling in 2018. The EU said Google had unfairly favored Chrome and its own search products on the Android platform. It was fined $5 billion for the offense.

Regarding the new options, Google said Android users will have the opportunity to select a “search provider to power a search box on their home screen and as the default in Chrome (if installed).” Users may still change provider later.

Google showed off an example of what this screen would look like on its blog, pictured below:

Android choose a search provider page coming to Android phones. Google

To decide which providers will be featured, Google said it will hold an auction where these companies can bid for a spot on the select screen. Google described the process like this:

“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.”

Is this ridiculous?

Google has been forced to comply with the EU ruling on this matter, so it doesn’t really matter what anybody thinks of it. Still, I don’t think it will change the search provider landscape much.

In Europe, Google search has an estimated 92.8% share of the market across all platforms. This is followed by Bing on 3.08%, Yandex on 1.95%, and Yahoo on less than 1%. On mobile only, Google has more than 95% of the market share.

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I suspect those who care to use Bing, Yahoo, or Yandex on mobile probably already do, so having the option to select one of these during the setup may not significantly alter the market share figures. When the search provider option rolls out, the overwhelming majority of us are probably still going to choose Google as the default, and the new option screen will just be an added inconvenience.

It might make things more convenient for the less than 5% of users who don’t use Google, but that’s only if their preferred search provider wins the bidding war in that region. So, while this may be a fairer approach to search competition, it doesn’t seem very pertinent.

You can expect to see this new option in Europe from early 2020. Let me know how you feel about it in the comments.

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