DuckDuckGo is the clear winner of Google's first Android search provider auction

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 9, 2020
Google Android, Search

Google announced plans in 2019 to auction off three of the four positions of a new search provider selection screen on Android devices that are set up for the first time from March 1, 2020 on.

The decision followed a ruling by the European Union and a fine of 4.3 billion Euro caused by anti-competitive practices by Google in regards to the company's search service, Chrome web browser, and Android operating system.

Google revealed that it would auction off three of the four places of a search provider selection list -- the fourth place reserved for the company's own search engine -- that it would display to Android users from the European Union,

Unlike Microsoft's forced Browser Ballot screen, which the company had to display to users from the European Union when Internet Explorer reigned supreme, Google selected an auction system instead of a system that would pick providers randomly from a list of options.

choose-search provider google android

To make matters even more complicated, Google decided to auction off search provider slots for each member state individually.

CEOs of search companies were not happy about that and some companies, Ecosia being one, decided to boycott the auction entirely. Google plans to run auctions every four months and present the search providers that pay the most money per user as a choice in the country.

The first list of companies has been released (published by the Verge) and it is full of surprises. If you check out the list, you will notice that DuckDuckGo has won a slot in each of the member states. Microsoft's Bing search engine, likely to the surprise of many, got a single search provider slot in the United Kingdom.

Next to DuckDuckGo, it is Info ( that comes second followed by Yandex, Qwant and PrivacyWall. Other search providers include GMX and Seznam who bid high enough to be listed in select countries.

Austria: DuckDuckGo, GMX,
Belgium: DuckDuckGo,, Qwant
Bulgaria: DuckDuckGo,, PrivacyWall
Croatia: DuckDuckGo,, PrivacyWall
Czech Republic: DuckDuckGo,, Seznam
Denmark: DuckDuckGo, Givero,
Estonia: DuckDuckGo,, Yandex
Finland: DuckDuckGo,, Yandex
France: DuckDuckGo,, Qwant
Germany: DuckDuckGo, GMX,
Greece: DuckDuckGo,, Qwant
Hungary: DuckDuckGo,, PrivacyWall
Iceland: DuckDuckGo,, PrivacyWall
Ireland: DuckDuckGo,, PrivacyWall
Italy: DuckDuckGo,, Qwant
Latvia: DuckDuckGo,, Yandex
Liechtenstein: DuckDuckGo,, Qwant
Lithuania: DuckDuckGo,, Yandex
Luxembourg: DuckDuckGo,, Qwant
Malta: DuckDuckGo,, PrivacyWall
Netherlands: DuckDuckGo, GMX,
Norway: DuckDuckGo,, PrivacyWall
Poland: DuckDuckGo,, Yandex
Portugal: DuckDuckGo,, Qwant
Republic of Cyprus: DuckDuckGo,, PrivacyWall
Romania: DuckDuckGo,, PrivacyWall
Slovakia: DuckDuckGo,, Seznam
Slovenia: DuckDuckGo,, PrivacyWall
Spain: DuckDuckGo,, Qwant
Sweden: DuckDuckGo,, PrivacyWall
United Kingdom: Bing, DuckDuckGo,

The list may not reflect the popularity of search engines in a country as it shows the three search provides that bid the highest amount in the auction. It remains to be seen if EU officials are satisfied by the implementation or if Google will be asked to change the process

Android users may change the search engine at any time after the initial selection was made and may also install other browsers such as Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Brave, Opera, or Vivaldi on the device.

Now you: what is your take on the system and search provider selection system?

DuckDuckGo is the clear winner of Google's first Android search provider auction
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DuckDuckGo is the clear winner of Google's first Android search provider auction
The first search providers that won Google's Android search provider selection screen auction have been revealed.
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  1. Victor said on January 12, 2020 at 5:42 am

    I don’t use the search engine functions provided by any browser.

    I bookmark all the search engines I use.

    As for the selected-text > right-click search option, I use Context Menu Search.

    Context Menu Search allows you to use any site that has a standard search function.

  2. pioruns said on January 11, 2020 at 11:46 am

    Hahaha hilarious what Google did. EU extorted billions from them for that stupid “choose search engine” box, so they will make that money back and then some.
    by the way, I’ve been using DDG as my default search engine on my every device for 5 years or so. Good to see that they secured some serious funding to marketing. More people we take off Google services, the better.

  3. Allwynd said on January 11, 2020 at 10:14 am

    I would really want to move to DuckDuckGo, but Google still provides the most relevant results and I don’t have to waste my time as much when I’m looking for something.

  4. thebrowser said on January 10, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    I’m glad to see there’s some competition in this auctions regardless of whatever reason they each have to participate in it. Even if DDG became a real mainstream alternative to the big search engines, the hardest part still is to not become like them and suddenly change their ‘business model’. I really like DDG and is my default search engine in most my devices, but I can’t help and notice they are growing really fast… like, unusually fast.

    For instance I’ve met only 2 other people in my life that knew about DDG (relatively tech-savvy) which I guess that’s big enough number already, but how come they still managed to outbid other very popular companies in their respective countries? This of course means nothing per se but it is very interesting indeed.

    What would happen if they really grow enough to become known by the public and suddenly they flip? Most people wouldn’t even realize and they probably wouldn’t want to go through the troubles of finding another alternative just for privacy’s sake.

    Thoughts on this?

  5. Ascrod said on January 10, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    Gotta love EU users having better privacy rights than US users.

  6. Techno said on January 10, 2020 at 11:47 am

    I remember I uninstalled the DuckDuckGo app from my phone because it was showing up in the battery usage even though I never opened it.

    There is no reason for a search app to be running anything in the background, so what was it doing?

    This was some time ago so maybe things have changed now.

  7. Ministry of plenty said on January 10, 2020 at 6:38 am

    An auction system is meant to weaken those search engines financially.

    Google always being an option is bs too, what about markets where google is not the default se or even in the top 3, its getting a free pass paying nothing or transferring an amount number from a column to another. Remember that in EU oems can pay to not keep google search the default.

  8. ULBoom said on January 10, 2020 at 5:30 am
    Reply came in second? I can’t connect to the service. Server can’t be found. Not surprising.

    The “auction” apparently was for the amount each search provider would pay google per connection to their service.

    EU or EEA, EES, whomever were included in this, fined Google for being bad little people and Google took the opportunity to turn it into a money maker. I’d think there would be stipulations against charging alternate search engines for position on the list but, I guess not.

    Britain, 3 1/2 years later, I think is still in EU, it’s hard to tell from a distance but why would MS be so overwhelmingly popular with their amazing one percent market share? Why does Yahoo still exist with that name? They were the Theranos of Search!

    Maybe because none of that or anything else matters, Google’s still got 90% of the search market and that’s not going to change.

    1. John Fenderson said on January 10, 2020 at 9:51 pm

      @ULBoom: “The “auction” apparently was for the amount each search provider would pay google per connection to their service.”

      The way Google worked this is that the top bidders got onto the list, but they actually paid what the fourth-highest bid was, not necessarily what they themselves bid.

    2. steveb said on January 10, 2020 at 11:10 am

      ULBoom – Just to update you – the United Kingdom or UK ( Britain is not a country; it’s a landmass) will leave the EU on the 31st of this month, but with politicians involved it’s not quite that simple !

      The UK and EU have to sort out trade agreements, customs & border controls and some other stuff like that – in the absence of getting that done, the Primie Minister of the UK has committed to ‘full divorce’ by the end of 2020 at the latest.

      A further point people should consider when ranting on about choice – the EU Parliament alternates between Brussels (Belgium) and Strasbourg (France) which costs taxpayers billions and all because at the beginning France demanded they got a slice of the action. As all countries have to agree to change that piece of lunacy – I leave you to guess who’d veto it and thus give no choice to the majority.

  9. Probably said on January 9, 2020 at 8:48 pm

    Who gets the money from this silly Auction? the EU or Google?

    1. Cor said on January 9, 2020 at 10:37 pm

      Google gets the money. The EU gets the street credit. It’s all about jealousy, not privacy.

  10. Yuliya said on January 9, 2020 at 8:41 pm

    So DuckDuckGo pays Google money, so they can help their users protect their privacy? What’s in return for DDG, one has to ask.

    1. zeomal said on January 10, 2020 at 7:05 am

      Weinberg mentions that DuckDuckGo is already profitable, and “Most of the money is still made without tracking people by showing you ads based on your keyword, i.e. type in car and get a car ad. These ads are lucrative because people have buying intent. All that tracking is for the rest of the Internet without this search intent, and that’s why you’re tracked across the Internet with those same ads.”

      Given that they don’t even have a account to login to save preferences, but instead rely on saving preferences via passphrase stored unenrypted on the cloud that can be retrieved, among other things, it is compelling to believe they mean something when they that they don’t track you.

      1. Alice said on January 10, 2020 at 12:39 pm

        Notice the word “most” when talking about money and tracking and not all.

    2. odin said on January 10, 2020 at 4:27 am

      DDG makes money from their users by serving ads. The difference with Google Search is that they do it without sacrificing the user’s privacy. Each ad is based only on the current search query, not on the user’s entire search history.

    3. Anonymous said on January 9, 2020 at 11:52 pm

      Duckduckgo makes money from ads, the more users the more money for them.

    4. Anonymous said on January 9, 2020 at 10:13 pm

      @Yuliya said on January 9, 2020 at 8:41 pm: ”What’s in return for DDG, one has to ask.”

      Detailed, personal and profiled information about users. Money is just a tool. Information [data] is power.

    5. John Fenderson said on January 9, 2020 at 9:30 pm


      DDG makes money through nontargeted ads, so the more traffic they get, the more money they make.

  11. TinzaFoils said on January 9, 2020 at 8:27 pm

    Really in the EU, and maybe that browser choice regulation should be extended to search engines choices as well along with some very stringent privacy regulations that not only includes the EU/Affiliated members but the remainder of the US states other than California/Similar US states that have newer more privacy friendly regulations.

    But really how costly is the auction and what sorts of strings come attached as far as search engine privacy settings under Google’s ecosystem.

    1. Addy T. said on January 10, 2020 at 2:27 am

      The EU, with its upload filter and data retention policies, is hardly concerned about privacy; they just look for opportunities to make money from US companies after stiffling innovation and internet freedom in Europe. Forcing Microsoft to display an annoying browser choice screen or to sell you an OS without a media player — while everybody was always free to install whatever they like — is part of that scheme. Stupidity and harassment.

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