Google has announced the alternative search engines it will show to new Android users in the EU, with DuckDuckGo the most frequently offered choice and Bing tied for last place.
EU citizens setting up Android devices from March 1 will be given a choice of four search engines to use as their default, including Google. Whichever provider they chose will become the default for searches made in Chrome and through Android’s home screen search box. A dedicated app for that provider will also be installed on their device.
The “choice screen” is being introduced by Google following an antitrust ruling from the European Union last March. Google was fined a record $5 billion by EU regulators, who said the company had to stop “illegally tying” its search engine and browser to its mobile OS.
The search engines shown to new users will vary for each EU country, with the selection decided based on a “fourth-price” auction system. Each provider tells Google how much it’s willing to pay the company every time a user selects their product as the default. The three highest bidders are then shown to users, with the chosen provider paying Google the amount offered by the fourth-highest bid. This process is repeated every four months.
All this means that the choices Google will show to users don’t necessarily reflect a search engine’s popularity in that country. Rather, it shows how much the provider is willing to pay for users. This might explain why Microsoft’s Bing only appears as an option in the UK — a country where the revenue from search ads is likely to be higher than lower-GDP nations.
When Google announced the auction system last August, rival search providers were not happy. Eric Leandri, CEO of privacy-focused search engine Qwant, said it was a “total abuse of [Google’s] dominant position” to “ask for cash just for showing a proposal of alternatives.” Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, said the auction system was a “pay-to-play auction” that meant “Google will profit at the expense of the competition.”
The CEO of Ecosia, a search engine that uses its profits to plans trees, boycotted the auction entirely. In a press statement, its CEO and founder Christian Kroll said Google’s decision was “at odds with the spirit of the July 2018 EU Commission ruling.” Kroll said Ecosia would be raising its concerns “over Google’s monopolistic behavior with European Union legislators.”
You can see the full selections that will be shown to users in the EU below:
Update January 9, 8:33AM ET: Updated with statement from Ecosia CEO.