back to article Google to offer users a choice of default search engine on Android in the EU – but it's pay to play

Google's Android will charge internet search providers to appear on its court-mandated option screen from early next year. The ad giant's mobile platform was forced by the European Commission to offer users a choice of search providers rather than just defaulting to Google. As a result, consumers in Europe see an option screen …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Solution made by beancounters

    Google charging Google means net-zero cost for Google and Google can out bid everyone.

    I'm surprised the EU went along with it.

    1. big_D Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Solution made by beancounters

      You are abusing your monopoly position, stop it!

      Okay, how about we let others in, but they have to pay us for the privilege?

      Erm... WTF?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Solution made by beancounters

      You know, I'm not so sure. How does it work with the UK and France now about to tax *revenue*?

      If that applies, charging themselves won't be free, there'll be a tax paid on it. It could become an incentive to more countries to join in.

      So, I'm not as convinced as others that this is a Google victory. It could be a very reasonable compromise, going inn the right direction for all parties involved.

      Looking forward to see the detail of how it'll work in practice...

      1. caffeine addict Silver badge

        Re: Solution made by beancounters

        there'll be a tax paid on it

        Ahahaha!

        Oh. You were serious?

        Ahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!

      2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Solution made by beancounters

        there'll be a tax paid on it

        No there won't - and that's not tax avoidance either.

        Even if there is an inter-company hcarge & payment, the tax effect is nil. Whatever comes in as income (and hence would be taxable profit) is also an expense either to the same company or another in the same group (and hence allowable against tax as a business expenditure). Thus there's a saving in corporation tax on one end which exactly balances the extra corporation tax at the other end. This is quite basic knowledge about taxation that should be known by most people (and anyone in business).

        However, what is normally done as a tax avoidance measure is to base one end of the transaction in a low tax location - so the tax on the income is lower than the tax reduced as a result of the expense at the other end. The classic example of this is where ${WellKnownBrand} sets up a subsidiary in a tax haven which just happens to own the worldwide rights to ${WellKnownBrand}. Said brand identity is then licensed to other business units around the world in return for a payment. These other units therefore reduce their profits (and tax) due to the legitimate expense, while the brand holding company makes all the profit but pays little tax due to being based in a low tax location. Or rather than a brand licensing system, it could be a requirement for each country's subsidiary to buy it's coffer beans from one other subsidiary - at a priace which is "a bit above" market value.

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Solution made by beancounters

      Bing is the default search engine on Windows. Everyone changes it to Google, or they use Bing to search for Google, then use Google to find what they are actually looking for.

      1. largefile

        Re: Solution made by beancounters

        Not everyone. Bing has been my primary search engine for a long time. Get's me everything I need.

  2. sabroni Silver badge

    Bah!

    Google have won this one. There may be some who'd pay for the chance to gamble on becoming more popular than Google but I can't imagine there are many that would do a better job of integrating with Android.

    And if they do Google can keep changing things so google search works and the third parties don't. It's how they managed to kill the rendering engine in Edge.

    1. big_D Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Bah!

      The best result would be if nobody bid and they had to take 3 random search engines each time.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Bah!

        "The best result would be if nobody bid and they had to take 3 random search engines each time."

        ...and the Google rand() function manages to pick the three most useless search engines it can find so by default the users go back to using Google.

    2. caffeine addict Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      It seems like a good way to get money from Bing. As long as it's pay to appear and not pay per use.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Except Google is shite (and getting shiter)

    Unless I am alone, having used the internet since before there was an internet, I have seen searches get less and less efficient.To the extent that they are now not returning hits to data that I know is there. Plenty of sponsored ads and cruft. But the actual meat ?

    There is a gap in the market for an enterprise search engine - even at a monthly subscription - that eliminates all SEO trickery, ads, and simply returns the best list of documents searched for. Closer to how a proper academic search engine should work.

    Every so often one of my managers will get a bit excited about "AI". I have a stock set of google queries that disabuse him of the worry that Something Is Happening in "AI".

    1. Rich 2

      Re: Except Google is shite (and getting shiter)

      I completely agree. There was a time (not that long ago) when google returned useful results. For whatever search terms you put in, you could get dozens of pretty good and varied results.

      It's now pretty much useless. No matter what you put in, you'll get a link to Amazon, a link to Wikipedia, and the rest (all three or four!) of the results seem to point to the same article (which quite often bears no resemblance to the search terms).

      And the "exact phrase" option simply does not work any more and hasn't for years now.

      So yes, it's shite!

      ps - Try Ecosia - not as extensive as google but it tends to return what google used to.

      1. JassMan Silver badge

        Re: Except Google is shite (and getting shiter)

        It is a god idea to read their policy and permissions before installing. You may not be happy for a search engine to download stuff you haven't asked for and to open files on your PC. Or change what you get to see on a page. Not to mention the fact it wants permission to read all your username and password fields. It seems to have delusions of replacing/supplementing your adblocker, noscript and other plugins rather than just concentrating on providing search results.

        Their intentions may be entirely honorable but some of the things you have to permit seem open to abuse, especially if a hacker adds extensions to the plugin. It is also not clear whether the plugin is active even when you are not specifically using ecosia for a search.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Except Google is shite (and getting shiter)

        allintext: "exact phrase desired goes here"

        allintext: "exactwordgoeshere"

        allintext: "word1" "word2"

        allintext: "sentence one" "word2"

        All works perfectly, where's the problem?

    2. tony72

      Re: Except Google is shite (and getting shiter)

      Remember back when Google search proudly proclaimed that it was an "and" search by default? Now you get to scratch your head at the irrelevant results, before noticing the tiny "Missing: <most important keyword>" bit below the results, because Google's mighty algorithms have decided that they know what you're searching for better than you do. Progress. Google is still the best general search engine IMO, but it takes more effort now to make it work properly.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Except Google is shite (and getting shiter)

        I gave up on Google over a year ago. I mainly use Duck Duck Go, with some Bing and Ecosea for good luck.

        Interestingly, Bing seems to be the worst at searching for information on Microsoft products... :-S

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: Except Google is shite (and getting shiter)

          I second the DDG recommendation. I've been using it for about three years now, at first it was a bit painful and I had to use the '!g' option to search google more often than I'd like. Nowadays I hardly ever do, because DDG has improved and Google has somehow managed to get worse. Most of the time when I can't find what I want on DDG and try Google I can't find it there either.

          Somewhat unrelated, but whatever search engines are doing to rank "quora" highly please stop. That is always the most useless search result listed!

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Except Google is shite (and getting shiter)

      The best are when you are searching for support or documentation on a product. Enter "handbook for <device>" or "<device> error code 123" and the page will be littered with online shops, comparison sites, reviews of the product, you have to dig a long way down to find anything relevant to the search.

      I mean, if you are searching for help on a product, especially an error code, chances are that you won't be looking to buy another one!

  4. big_D Silver badge

    Not just the browser

    As a result, consumers in Europe see an option screen when they first set up an Android device offering them the chance to set the default search engine for the Chrome browser.

    Isn't it also for the search bar / standard search in Android. There is also supposed to be a choice of browser, so it won't necessarily be for Chrome, either.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    How on earth have the EU let them get away with charging search engines to be put on the EU mandated search engine select screen?

    No doubt Google is so synonymous with search now they probably think 90% of people will choose Google anyway. As a lot of people have probably only ever of heard of Google and maybe Bing, but that's probably just because their Windows 10 PC was set up to use Bing by default.

    I have to say most of my searches do go through Google as when I did try Yahoo (so Bing results) I found a lot of the results for technical searches were just pages stuffed with keywords trying to get you to sign up to paid support services. I do use Yandex for its image searches though as found it to be better than both Google and Bing, especially when doing a reverse image searches.

  6. Andy Livingstone

    31st October

    Have Google and the EC both noted carefully in their diaries that the potential change should not affect UK users as we hope to be will out of the sheep fold on that date and consequently they can play their little games without us?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 31st October

      ...we hope to be will out of the sheep fold on that date...

      ...and being eaten up the orange wolf (sorry but pandas doesn't eat sheep) and others.

      Remoaner in Chief

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: 31st October

      consequently they can play their little games without us

      Did we get a vote on Googxit?

      I'd bet the honorable? Members of Private Enterprise wouldn't have been as keen to rush that one through...as long as Alphabet kept the brown envelopes coming regularly.

      Nope, Google we don't get a choice in leave means leave, you can only minimise your contact.

  7. karlkarl Bronze badge

    This will only mean that the "rich", usually unethical search providers will win the bid. So Android devices will just show a list of the worst search companies haha.

    It seems commercial operating systems are going to continue a downwards spiral.

  8. iron Silver badge
    Flame

    No thanks

    Once a user chooses a search provider...

    it will be set on the home screen - I don't want any search provider on my home screen

    as well as becoming the default search engine for Chrome - not much use since I never use Chrome

    It will also install the search app from the chosen provider - no fucking thanks, I chose what apps I want to install there is enough pre-installed crap as it is

    All this is going to do is annoy the hell out of me as well as giving me ANOTHER app to uninstall.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: No thanks

      Uninstall? Wont it just reinstall itself next time it updates? I#ve never worked out how to get rid of the 'core' apps that I never use but for some reason Anthrax cant live without.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: No thanks

        I#ve never worked out how to get rid of the 'core' apps that I never use

        Bit trite, sorry, but LineageOS (and I dare say other alternatives - I only know LOS) works perfectly well without the Gapps.

        I'm going to be in the market for a new phone soon, and I think one of my main criteria is going to be the ability to install LineageOS. Sort of cuts down on the choice though, particularly in the sub-£150 market :-/

        M.

  9. codejunky Silver badge

    Meh

    Android is theirs and theirs alone yet are now being forced to remove the 'payment' for the freebie OS, of course they are going to find some way of trying to compensate for that loss.

    Well done Google. May the EU and their small penis syndrome crumble and fall.

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Meh

      May you be fucked up the arse by google's big dick.

    2. osmarks

      Re: Meh

      It is in theory open source, but huge amounts of important functionality have been moved into Google Play Services and whatnot.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Meh

        @osmarks

        "It is in theory open source, but huge amounts of important functionality have been moved into Google Play Services and whatnot."

        Sorry I wasnt commenting on it being open source but the operating system is freely distributed because it pays for itself through the default settings it uses. The reason Google has put a price on it is because the value already exists it just wasnt paid with money previously, where now it is.

        I am not particularly for or against Google but this action isnt really a new cost, its just a cost moved from non-cash to cash.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On Windows 7 Microsoft's randimising algorithm favoured IE. It didn't randomize, will Google get away with this mistake too?

    On Windows 7 when sp1 was released a year or so later, part way into the 5 years, the browser choice disappeared totally, oops, will Google get away with this misrake as well?

    On the latter part, why is it that Microsoft was allowed to get away this shortening their term without any consequences?

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      without any consequences?

      Because Microsoft is a lot less relevant than it used to be?

  11. steelpillow Silver badge
    Flame

    Taking the piss

    Google are taking the piss out of the EU bigtime. That is never a good idea. Give it five years and their ass will have such a huge bitemark in it they will not be able to sit on their laurels for the foreseeable future.*

    *(Me, mix metaphors? What a dog's breakfast of a kite to fly!)

  12. Lorribot

    No one in the UK will have to worry about losing Google search or get any of their increased wealth back in tax as none of that EU bullshit will apply to us when Boris rules the world

    He will give Google tax breaks to take all our NHS data and store it because we can't afford EMC storage for it all now as the as all that foreign stuff will be too expense for us to buy.

    But we will be happy and free of the EU tyranny that seeks to cut down those helpful multinationals that have budget surpluses we can only dream of.

  13. Diogenes Silver badge

    What about the nag to use chrome

    If i do use google to find something using a different browser, I get nagged to change to Chrome, same thing on youtube, and I have noticed in side by side tests, in youtube i see a lot more ads if i use a non chrome browser, , ie on the same video, i see no ad on chrome vs 2 unskippable 30 sec ads using non crome, and another in the middle as well

  14. JokerQB

    It seems like EU always was OK with it.

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