- Google will start offering Android users in Europe the chance to pick a different default search engine when setting up their phones for the first time.
- The new Android choice screen will start appearing in early 2020, and will offer users a choice of four different search engines, including Google.
- Google has now released the full list of alternative search engines it will offer alongside its own, and the options vary depending on which European country users are in.
- One winner of the process is the increasingly popular, privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo, which Google lists as a potential alternative to its own search engine across 31 European countries.
- The changes come after Google was fined a record $5 billion in July 2018 by the EU over competition breaches.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Android users in Europe will see something unusual when setting up their new phones for the first time: the option to pick a default search engine that isn’t Google.
Google will in early 2020 start offering Android users alternatives to its own search engine in the form of a choice screen that will appear on their phones.
That’s thanks to antitrust action by Europe’s competition watchdog, which found the search firm behaved illegally to boost its dominance in search and handed it a record $5 billion fine.
Now Google has released the list of which search engines will appear as an option on users’ choice screens when they’re setting up new phones. The choice screen will only apply to 31 European countries, and there are different search engine options offered in each country.
Android phone users have always been able to change their default search engine on Android, and can continue to do so, but Google’s auction means this will be the first time they’ll be able to make that choice while setting up their devices.
The privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo is a major winner from the auction, and will appear on the choice screen for every European country on Google’s list.
Here’s what the choice screen will look like:
Google held an auction to comply with EU law, whereby alternative search engines could submit bids to appear on the choice screen.
Business Insider understands the auction was developed with Europe’s competition watchdog, and that Google will rerun it every three months, giving alternative search engines the chance to review their bids.
Bing – the search engine developed by Google’s longtime rival Microsoft – was only chosen to appear on the choice screens of UK Android phone users.
DuckDuckGo successfully bid to appear on the choice screens of users in all 31 countries, as did Info.com, a search engine developed by InfoSpace.
Founded in 2008 in the US, DuckDuckGo is a search engine that prioritizes user privacy, sporting the tagline “Privacy, simplified.” It eschews personalized search results and doesn’t profile its users, generally setting itself up as a privacy-focused alternative to data-hungry Google Search.
DuckDuckGo is popular with the pro-privacy crowd, but it’s still dwarfed by Google. According to NetMarketShare, DuckDuckGo’s share of the search engine market stands at 0.31%, compared to Google’s 82.5%.
Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey is a known fan of DuckDuckGo, having tweeted in November that he uses DuckDuckGo as his “default” search engine.
A DuckDuckGo spokesperson told Business Insider that, while the company agrees with the idea of users choosing their preferred search engine, it does not think Google’s auction served to maximize users’ choices.
“We believe a search preference menu is an excellent way to meaningfully increase consumer choice if designed properly,” he said. “Our own research has reinforced this point and we look forward to the day when Android users in Europe will have the opportunity to easily make DuckDuckGo their default search engine while setting up their phones.
“However, we still believe a pay-to-play auction with only 4 slots isn’t right because it means consumers won’t get all the choices they deserve and Google will profit at the expense of the competition.”
A Google spokesman declined to provide comment, instead directing BI to a descriptive article about the topic on its website.
Options trading European Android users can see what alternative search engines will be offered to them here.
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