The regulators ruled that Google was pushing users onto its own search engine and to other monetised services with its approach to bundling apps. At the time, Google were fined a massive $5 billion for what was deemed to be a violation of antitrust. This was a record-breaking fine, showing just how seriously the regulators were taking this abuse of the dominance of Android OS.
Which search engines will appear as options on Android?
DuckDuckGo and Info.com plus one other search engine will appear as options when an Android users sets up their device for the first time. This change comes into effect from the 1 March 2020 and the chosen provider will then become the default search engine for Chrome. The third option will depend on the region of the user, as Qwant will be an option in eight regions, Yandex in five and GMX, Seznam, Givero and PrivacyWall in others. A full list of the choice screen auction options for each country has been published by Android.
The choices were filled through an auction, with DuckDuckGo having the funds to be able to win a place, an approach which has been scrutinised by search engine providers.
Why is this change being introduced?
The July 2018 EU Commission ruling is driving this change. Following on from the $5 billion fine received in 2018, they were further penalised in 2019 for misconduct over their abuse of their dominant position. Complaints had been submitted by FairSearch and Aptoide which lead to the investigation into Google’s operations and particularly how they bundled Android apps.
Google have been at loggerheads with the EU Commission for some years now, so this change is a big step in their efforts to comply with the ruling and avoid further fines. Whether this change will be enough to do that, remains to be seen.