Google ends search provider auctions on Android
Google displays a search engine selection screen on Android devices in some regions of the world, including the European Union. The majority of Android devices have Google Search as the default search provider and one complaint that was leveled at Google by regulators from the European Union was that the company pushed manufacturers to keep Google Search and Google Apps as the defaults on their devices.
Google made the decision to display a search engine selection screen in those regions. The initial selection process required payments in an auction-like system. Providers who paid the most were included, and those who refused to pay or did not bid enough were not included in the selection process.
Some providers refused to participate in the auction because they felt it was putting them at a disadvantage against companies with deeper pockets.
The updated Choice Screen support page on the Android website reveals that Google has made changes to the choice screen "in consultation with the European Commission". The auction-based choice screen won't be used anymore and search providers don't have to bid in an auction anymore or pay Google to be included.
Android users will see a list of up to 12 search providers in random order. The list includes Google Search and also other providers such as DuckDuckGo, Bing, Ecosia, or Yahoo.
The choice screen display and ordering follows the following rules:
- The five most popular search providers in a region based on StatCounter data will be displayed randomly at the top (including Google).
- Up to seven additional search providers are displayed randomly after the five search providers at the top. If there are more than seven eligible search providers, seven will be picked from the available providers each time the screen is displayed.
Providers need to meet certain criteria if they want to be included:
- The search engine needs to be a general purpose search engine and not a specialized search engine.
- The search provider needs to have a free app in Google Play.
- Search providers must offer local language support in the regions and countries that they want to be included.
- Search providers need to deliver required technical assets to Google.
Google was criticized heavily for its auction-based approach and the small number of search providers that it displayed to Android users in the original choice system. The system benefitted providers with deep pockets and meant that many providers would not be displayed to Android users, even if the search engine was more popular or liked than others.
The new system is better; the top five search providers will get the bulk of selections but even smaller providers have a chance to be selected.
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