Google to auction default search places on Android phones

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Google are to allow rivals to compete to be the default search engines on new Android devices in Europe, in the company’s latest attempt to ward off fresh EU antitrust penalties.

Incredibly, Google will make money from their latest proposal, deciding that competitors will have to pay for the privilege. Google on Friday announced plans to auction spots on a “choice screen” from which users will select their preferred search engine.

The move comes a year after the European Commission fined the tech giant 4.34 billion euros ($6.37 billion) for blocking rivals by pre-installing its Chrome browser and search app on Android smartphones and notebooks.

Back in March, Google said it would overhaul search results in Europe and offer users a browser choice.

Google said that users in Europe will, from early 2020, be able to pick a default search engine from four options, including Google, when they set up a new Android smartphone or tablet.

Rival search engines can apply to join Google among the four options in separate auctions for each individual country. In the event that fewer than three search providers meet or exceed the bid threshold, Google will fill any remaining slots randomly from a pool including those that asked to take part in the auctions but did not submit bids

Google described the auction process as a “fair and objective method” to determine which search providers are given as options for device users.

“It allows search providers to decide what value they place on appearing in the choice screen and to bid accordingly,” the company said.

The European Commission plans to monitor the process closely.

“The decision provides rival search providers the possibility to strike exclusive pre-installation deals with smartphone and tablet manufacturers. This was not possible before,” a spokesman said.

“We have seen in the past that a choice screen can be an effective way to promote user choice.”

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