The opposition of European antitrust regulators prompted Google to make major changes to the way search works on android smartphones. The company said it will stop charging competitors’ search platforms and make it the default platform for android devices, but it is currently limited to Europe. “For many years, we have been engaged in constructive discussions with the European Commission on how to promote more options on android devices, while ensuring that we can continue to invest and provide the android platform for free for a long time,” Google stated in its blog post.
Google seems to be in line with EU regulators, a 2018 ruling related to the ruling that resulted in Google being fined $5 billion for violating antitrust laws. The company is accused of abusing its dominant position in the Android market by bundling Google search and the Chrome browser on all Android devices, although regulators have required the company to end its “illegal conduct” within 90 days of making a decision.
The company said yesterday’s ruling was taken after “further feedback” from the European Commission and will attend the selection screen on android. This screen also appeared only in the European Union and was part of the 2018 ruling. It allows users to choose a default search engine they want, but Google can charge competitors who appear on this screen. The company uses a bidding process similar to its advertising deal to place the top three bidders on this screen.
Based on yesterday’s changes, participation in this screen is now free and will include up to 12 search providers. Based on data from web analytics company StatCounter, the top five will be the most popular search providers in a given country. “In the first five services, up to seven remaining eligible general search services will be displayed in random order. If there are more than 7 remaining general search services in a given country or region, they will be displayed randomly each time the selection screen is displayed. Select the country / region, to select the 7 services displayed on the screen,” noted Google in another article. Although this change is currently only related to devices sold in the EU, it may also be important for other markets.
The pre-installation of Google’s own apps and services is a point of contention and has been submitted to regulators in multiple countries. Governments can use the EU’s decision as a precedent for Google to take action on a global scale.
In other words, the StatCounter data shows that in May of this year, Google had a 92.2% global market share in the search field, and its closest competitor, Bing, had a share of just over 2%. Therefore, it is unlikely that this change will actually affect the business of the company, because it has basically become synonymous with the Internet.