Google has faced several regulatory punishments in Europe. Among them was forcing the company to offer search choice on Android. The European Commission had previously argued Google was forcing users into using its own search engine. While Google is now complying, the company will charge competitors such as Microsoft Bing to be listed as alternative choices.
Starting in 2020, the company will present a new screen on Android when devices are being setup. The page will offer users a choice of search engines beyond Google’s own market-leading Search. Whatever search choice the user makes will then become the default search on the device (it can still be changed later via settings).
This chosen search will be visible on the Android home screen and in the Chrome browser. Google’s decision is in response to a 2018 ruling that found the company was using Chrome and search to dominate rivals on Android.
European regulators fined the company a record $5 billion for those antitrust violations.
Pay for Choice
Google is charging rivals to place their service on the choice screen, which is in compliance with the European stipulations. To be included on the choice screen, a sealed-bid auction will be conducted. The top three bidders will be added alongside Google.
Google described the auction process in a blog post this week:
“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.”
An auction is a fair and objective method to determine which search providers are included in the choice screen. It allows search providers to decide what value they place on appearing in the choice screen and to bid accordingly.”
Of course, Google thinks most users will choose its own search anyway. As for rivals, a company like Microsoft will have to pay to put Bing alongside Search just for the slight chance users will select it.