In the wake of an antitrust settlement in Russia, Google is modifying Chrome for Android there so that users can choose a search engine the first time they run the browser.
“Starting this month, Android users in Russia are presented with a choice screen in Chrome Mobile browser allowing them to select their preferred search engine,” a post to the Yandex Blog reads. “Previously, Google search was the default search on Chrome on all Android devices; a different search engine could only be selected by accessing the application settings.”
Yandex is a Russia-based Internet search firm which sued Google and accused it of antitrust violations in that country. In April, Google settled with Yandex and agreed to offer Russian users of its Chrome app on Android a choice of search engines. So this change is about to be implemented in Chrome 60, which is due soon.
Yandex has provided this image of the search engine choice screen, which will appear the first time you use the app after the upgrade, or after a new install.
Its impossible to see this image without thinking of the horrible “browser ballot box” interface that Microsoft was forced to add to Internet Explorer in in various versions of Windows in Europe following a disastrous antitrust case in the early 2000s. This requirement expired in 2014.
But the EU also required Microsoft to offer special “N” versions of Windows that didn’t include the firm’s media technologies and applications. Those versions are actually still available today, which is amazing. Even more amazing is the notion that Microsoft bundling media technologies in Windows would ever harm competition. The software giant barely registers when it comes the usage of its current media apps.
Today, companies like Google and Apple dominate the personal computing market, so it makes sense that they would face some of the same challenges—antitrust and otherwise—that Microsoft faced during its heyday. I expect Google, in particular, to suffer from a series of related setbacks in the years ahead, and especially in the EU.