Google Outlines Its Search Ballot Box for Android

Posted on August 2, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Google, Google Chrome with 13 Comments

Starting next year, Google will provide Android users with a choice of five search providers to comply with an EU antitrust ruling. That is, in addition to providing Android users with a choice of browsers, it will also provide them with a choice of search providers, which will become the default in both a home screen-based search box and, if installed, Google Chrome.

“Search providers can apply to be part of the new choice screen, which will appear when someone is setting up a new Android smartphone or tablet in Europe,” Google’s Paul Gennai explains. “The application process for search providers opens today and the new choice screen will be introduced to new Android phones in Europe in early 2020.”

What Gennai doesn’t explain is that the search provider choices that EU-based Android users will see won’t be based on popularity. Instead, Google is creating a “choice screen auction” by which search providers can, on a country-by-country basis, inform Google how much they are willing to pay each time a user selects them from the choice screen in the given country.

“The auction winners, and Google, will be ordered randomly in the choice screen,” Google explains separately. “In the event of a tie, Google will allocate the slots randomly among the tied bidders. In the event that fewer than three eligible search providers meet or exceed the bid threshold, Google will fill any remaining slots randomly from the pool of eligible search providers. The pool of eligible providers will include those that applied to participate in the choice screen but did not submit bids.”

If this auction seems slightly off-kilter, it may be because it clearly favors richer companies that can afford to pay more. And because it represents another new way for Google to monetize Android in the EU. So instead of being punished for abusing its dominance there, Google can continue benefiting from it.

Google doesn’t (publicly) see it that way.

“An auction is a fair and objective method to determine which search providers are included in the choice screen,” Google notes. “It allows search providers to decide what value they place on appearing in the choice screen and to bid accordingly.”

As for the users, Google says that the search provider choice screen will only appear on those devices where a hardware maker has chosen to preinstall Google Search. And after the choice is made, users can at any time change that decision, on the home screen and in Chrome, remove the home-based search box, and download other search apps. Users will only see the choice screen during the initial setup of their device.

Tagged with

Join the discussion!

BECOME A THURROTT MEMBER:

Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Register
Comments (13)

13 responses to “Google Outlines Its Search Ballot Box for Android”

  1. wright_is

    Hmm, here's how we will gouge our competitors and still get around sanctions...

    What was Google's motto? I seem to have forgotten it, seems like they have as well.

  2. wright_is

    If this auction seems slightly off-kilter, it may be because it clearly favors richer companies that can afford to pay more.

    And given that the EU's argument was, that their position stops new competitors in the search branch getting a foot hold, how does this help?

  3. rm

    So, Google thinks making its competitors pay to be listed any where but the bottom of the list should be a money maker for Google. So, Google used anti-competitive practices (they were found guilty of this) to keep the competition down and now they expect them to pay to get back market share Google illegally kept them from getting in the first place. I would fine Google another billion for the stupidity and give the money to Googles competitors, and force Google not to charge, just make it random.

    • Pungkuss

      Nothing is free dude. They are paying for access to the user. Google made Android so they could push their services. Remember they do not charge for Android. They told the EU that as a result of removing the bundled Google services they would either charge the OEM(no longer forcing them, the thing they got fined for) or if the OEM chose Google develop a ballot and charge the non Google service that got picked. The ballot system is to determine who gets on the list and where.
      In reply to RM:


  4. rm

    So, Google will be making sure they pay themselves more than their competitors pay to get listed higher on the list! They clearly do not understand they are being penalized for this type of practice! Time to fine them again just for the shear gull.

  5. shmuelie

    They took the browser ballot idea and made it worse

  6. karlinhigh

    So, how SHOULD have Google decided who goes on the browser ballot? Top 5 by market share or something?

  7. SvenJ

    “The auction winners, and Google, will be ordered randomly in the choice screen,” Google explains separately. “In the event of a tie, Google will allocate the slots randomly among the tied bidders.........


    Doesn't make sense. If the winners are ordered randomly, that's that. What does having a tie change? The more you pay the higher you are randomly placed?

  8. dontbeevil

    Strange they "forgot" bing, the author didn't notice... Hopefully the antitrust will


    P. S.

    I have to take a screenshot of every comment, because they start to disabber, without notifications and without breaking any law

  9. karlinhigh

    The pool of eligible providers will include those that applied to participate in the choice screen but did not submit bids.


    So if all the other search companies would apply, but not bid...


    ...but as ruthless as they've been with pushing their way into people's browsers - via install bundles, toolbars, extensions, etc - I would be astonished if that happened.

  10. ragingthunder

    I really hope the EU forces M$ to let users change the search engine in Windows 10 instead of forcing people to use the highly substandard and annoying Bing search.

Leave a Reply