Google To Charge Competitors For Android Default Search Engine Status In EU

Last year Google was hit with a massive $5 billion fine by the European Commission. Along with that fine, Google was forced to implement new screens to ask users if they wanted additional browsers and search engines on the device at setup. Google has found a way to make lemonade out of the lemons given to it by the European Commission and has started to charge search engine providers.

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The new Android "choice screen" that the European Commission forced Google to adopt will land in early 2020 for users in Europe and will allow them to pick the default search engine that is featured in the home screen widget. Google will also install the app associated with the search engine choice the user makes.

Google and three other search providers are featured in random order for each country in the EU. The other three search engines that are listed on the choice page will be determined yearly and will be chosen based on who bids the highest in a sealed-bid auction.

The bids the search providers put in aren't for the entire year in one lump sum. The providers are bidding on an amount that they will pay each time an Android user picks them from the choice screen. The three highest bidders will be chosen if they meet the threshold, which isn't described. If no one meets the threshold, Google will choose randomly from among all the applicants, even if the applicants didn't offer a bid on the app.

Google also noted that users could customize their devices with different search providers, but they will have to do that manually rather than through the choice screen. Charging the providers won't make as much money for Google as it would by grabbing all the users by default as it used to. It's hard to imagine the smaller search providers not crying foul because of the potential cost associated with Google's system.

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