Google to let competitors appear as default search engine options on Android for free

Google, on Tuesday, made a statement that it will stop charging search engines to appear in a list of default search engines on Android that’s exclusive to European users. Back in 2019, Google introduced this system of bidding wherein competitor search engine companies had to take part in blind auctions in which they bid to appear in the “choice screen” – A screen which is displayed when users are setting up their devices, to select their browser engine, in various European countries.

Google was fined $5 billion followed by an antitrust enforcement action in 2018, by the European Commission targeting anti-competitive practices in its smartphone software. The so-called “choice screen” was introduced by Google as a consequence of this. But now, Google has discarded this auction process and eligible search engine companies can now appear on the list without any bidding cost.

Earlier, the choice screen would only display three other search engines apart from Google. But now, Google said its choice screen will show a continuous, scrollable list of up to 12 eligible search services in every European country, with the five most popular appearing at the top. The one you pick is the default for searches on the home screen and Chrome if you use that as your browser. Your device will also install that provider’s search app.

“Following further feedback from the Commission, we are now making some final changes to the Choice Screen including making participation free for eligible search providers,” Oliver Bethell, Google’s head of competition for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, wrote in a blog post. “We will also be increasing the number of search providers shown on the screen. These changes will come into effect from September this year on Android devices.”

Now that the competition becomes fair for all other search engines, we might see users in the European countries shifting from Chrome to browsers like Duck Duck Go, Qwant, and Ecosia.