Android to grudgingly offer search choice in Europe

As part of its ongoing bid to get the EU off its back Android will give European users a choice of default search provider from next year.

Google was fined €4.3 billion a year ago for abusing the dominant position Android holds in the smartphone market. By March of this year it hadn’t really done much to rectify the situation so the European Commission thought a further €1.5 billion fine might strengthen its resolve. This resulted in a vow from Google to offer more choice of browser and search engine.

Now the internet giant has proudly announced that when an Android device is first started up in Europe it will offer a choice of default search providers. It won’t but this very simple feature into effect until next year for some reason and there are a few other strings attached.

The main one is that all the other wannabe Android search providers will have to pay a fee every time someone chooses them as the default search provider instead of Google. The more they’re prepared to pay, the better chance they will have of being included as they will have to bid against each other for inclusion, with auctions conducted on a country-by-country basis and a maximum of three alternatives allowed.

There is a bit of a prisoner’s dilemma for the other search providers, however, as if none of them bid Google still has to offer up three alternatives, which it will pick at random from those that have applied for inclusion. So if they all hold their nerve there’s a chance they could get included for free. Of course there’s always the possibility that the EC will decide Google attempting to profit from its remedial measures is too cheeky and demand it doesn’t charge. Let’s see.

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