Android search engines: Google unveils first set of auction winners

DuckDuckGo will be on the Android choice screen across Europe; Bing features only in the UK.

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Google has revealed the rival search engines that owners of new Android smartphones and tablets will be able to choose from – alongside Google itself – when setting up their devices in Europe.

In July 2018 the European Commission (EC) fined Google €4.34 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules by imposing restrictions on Android device makers and network operators "to cement its dominant position in general internet search".

Following that ruling, Google said it would introduce a new "choice screen" for search providers on all new Android phones and tablets shipped into the European Economic Area where the Google Search app is pre-installed, with the search engine options chosen by auction.

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The choice screen will appear during initial device setup and will feature rival search engines alongside Google, so that users can chose which to use. The choice they make will set the search engine used in the home screen search box, the default search engine used in Chrome and will also install the search app.

DuckDuckGo was a winner across all 31 European countries, as was Info.com. The third rival on the choice screen varied; in 11 countries it will be PrivacyWall, in eight Qwant, Yandex in five and in three countries it will be GMX.

Seznam appears twice but Bing will only appear as an option once, in the UK.

The choice screen will begin appearing on new devices distributed in the EEA from March 1, 2020. Google used a 'fourth-price' auction to decide the search providers on a country-by-country basis, with auctions taking place every three months.

In each country auction, rivals had to set the price that they were willing to pay each time a user selects them from the choice screen, with the three highest bidders appearing on the choice screen and paying the amount of the fourth-highest bid. The auction winners, and Google, will appear in random order on the choice screen.