Google to make changes it really doesn't want to, at least in one region
On the Android side of smartphones, however, it only makes sense that you get Google by default, after all, Android is developed by Google so it gets to call dibs on search, right? Well, the European Commission doesn’t think so and has made that clear multiple times with fines so hefty even a company as big as Google feels the sting. To keep the EC happy and stop billions leaving its bank accounts, earlier this year we saw the first changes Google made to comply with the regulations. Users in Europe saw notifications on their phones informing them they can switch to another browser and search engine at any time, even suggesting popular alternatives.
While it might not sound like a big deal, that’s like going to McDonald’s and having someone at the door tell you that you can also eat at Burger King or Wendy’s and give you the nearest locations of those establishments.
More search choices from the get go
in a blog post, Google announced the next step it will take to ensure there’s fair competition among search engine providers on Android. Starting in early 2020, users in Europe will see an additional page during the setup process of their devices. From this page, you’ll be able to select the default search engine for your home screen and Chrome browser. You’ll be presented with four options, one of which is, obviously, going to be Google. How will the other three be determined? Good question!
Google will auction off the three other spots in a sealed-bid auction that will be held for each European country. Search engines won’t be bidding for the spot itself, but instead, they will offer a price they’re willing to pay for each user that selects their search engine from the page mentioned above. The companies with the top three bids earn the right to be placed alongside Google for the next year since the spots will be auctioned annually.
These auctions are a very clever way of Google compensating itself for being forced to hand out some of its search traffic to competitors. It takes the money if users select another search engine, but if some users are later dissatisfied with the competitor’s results, they can easily switch back to Google, which is a win-win for Google. First, it gets the money from its competitors and then gets the search traffic from the users just as it’s used to. We assume the EC hasn’t specified how exactly Google should choose the alternatives it offers which has allowed it to come up with the auctions.
Will that impact users in other regions?
Still, this change is an opportunity for other search engines to place themselves in the eyes of consumers, which will sway at least some of them to make a switch. While this doesn’t directly concern users from other regions, the actions taken by Google show that authorities have enough leverage to force even the largest companies into practices that are better for the consumers. The FCC has surely taken note of what’s happening across the pond so it won’t be surprising if at some point similar measures are taken in the States as well.