While there’s no doubt that Google is what comes to mind when most people think of a search engine, there are a plethora of other great choices on both web and mobile like DuckDuckGo. Following a silent auction last year, Google has unveiled the search engines that will be presented to Android devices in the European Economic Area.
Back in 2018, Google was fined approximately $5 billion by the EU for anti-trust law violations in Android related to the operating system and its default search engine and default browser all being Google products. Following that ruling, Google unveiled a plan to bring Android back into compliance by explicitly offering alternative search engines for the homepage search bar and Chrome browser.
To decide which search engines would be offered, and to create a bold new source of revenue, Google held a first-price sealed-bid auction for each individual country in the European Economic Area. Companies would submit their bid for how much they’re willing to pay per each user that selects their search engine instead of Google, and the three highest bidders — above a minimum bid threshold — would be featured prominently in Android.
Spotted by Android Police, the results of that auction have finally been posted. While the actual monetary numbers are withheld under a non-disclosure agreement, we now have a clear outline of the three alternative search engines that will be offered for each country.
With one look at the chart, it’s clear that the big winners of the Android search engine auction are DuckDuckGo and Info.com, who won a slot in every single country in the European Economic Area. DuckDuckGo, if you’re unfamiliar, prides itself on the privacy their search engine offers by not tracking your searches or building a profile of you in the way that Google does. Meanwhile, Info.com is a “metasearch engine,” meaning it takes the results from other search engines and attempts to provide a better overall picture from those results.
The third option in each country is where things get varied, but the divisions seem based mostly on the country’s language of choice. For example, predominantly German-speaking countries will see Germany-based search engine GMX, while many Eastern European countries will be offered the Russia-based Yandex. Oddly, Microsoft’s relatively well-known search engine Bing will only appear as a default option in the United Kingdom.
At the start, each of the alternative search engines will appear when setting up a European Android device that has the Google Search app built-in. Whichever search engine you choose will become the default for both the homepage search bar and the Google Chrome browser. An early demonstration of the UI for that experience can be seen below.
Notably, the “winners” list is specifically labeled as being valid for the period of March 1 through June 30, 2020. It’s possible the March 1 date may point to when we can expect to see these alternative search engines appear on Android in Europe, while the expiry date of June 30 points to the possibility of the alternatives regularly changing over time.
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