back to article Green search engine Ecosia thinks Google's Android auction stinks, gives bid a hard pass

Tree-planting search engine Ecosia has said no thanks to the Android search choice screen Google was forced to offer users as part of a European Commission settlement. Earlier this month, Google said interested parties could send in a sealed bid to access the choice screen displayed when new Android mobile phones are first …

  1. LDS Silver badge

    I wonder what would have happened...

    ... if Microsoft had setup a ballot for its browser selection screen. I think the EU should double the fine to change Google mind...

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: I wonder what would have happened...

      They didn't need to, their work was finished: Netscape was dead by then, the only choice for an enterprise browser was MSIE, and what people used at work they would also use at home. By "people" I do mean the 99%, not the tech-savvy 1%, those didn't wait for a "browser selection screen" to make up their minds.

      My point is that this browser selection thing was purely symbolical and (thus) inconsequential. I personally never met a person who stopped using MSIE because of that, so Microsoft had nothing to lose by adding it. Unlike Google, for whom search is its bread & butter.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "heir work was finished: Netscape was dead by then"

        That happened before MS had to deliver the browser ballot screen. And anyway the same can be said about Google dominance in search engines outside Russia and China.

        Anyway it looks to me that Microsoft lost a lot while Google was able to achieve a true Internet dominance - and now it's in the same position MS tried to attain - decide Internet standards to gain a competitive advantage.

        Search is not Google bread and butter - data slurping and ads slinging is - and frankly I can't understand people using Chrome and let Google slurp all their internet activities. And not surprisingly, not MS itself is trying to play the same game.

        1. Mark 110

          Re: "heir work was finished: Netscape was dead by then"

          "data slurping and ads slinging is" - and thats search? Surely. Am I missing something . . .

          1. ds6 Bronze badge

            Re: "heir work was finished: Netscape was dead by then"

            It appears so.

            Like what was said, first and foremost Google makes the largest percent of their revenue off of the personal information they collect and the ads they serve, and they wash each others hands: searches and ad placement/clicks build personal information (eg. every search you make tells Google your interests, every ad you see tells Google you visited that page, every ad you click on further adds to interests), and the personal information lets them serve better targeted ads and put you in a search bubble where they can pawn sponsored results and specific websites and applications they have partnership with. Search is no longer their bread anf butter, but it does butter up their data collection, and they can definitely use that data to further target your demographic in search results.

            Of course, this is just what we know. What we don't is what Google/Alphabet does with your personal information; there's no doubt in my mind they sell it to the highest bidder, né Cambridge Analytica.

        2. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: "heir work was finished: Netscape was dead by then"

          > That happened before MS had to deliver the browser ballot screen.

          I did say "by then"... As for why Microsoft eventually lost the browser wars, it's IMHO because they are utterly unable to compete on excellence. It's apparently a company culture thing.

          (Agree with the rest of your post.)

        3. sisk Silver badge

          Re: "heir work was finished: Netscape was dead by then"

          And anyway the same can be said about Google dominance in search engines outside Russia and China.

          I'm not so sure. Netscape was well and truly dead by then, but there are three major players and several smaller ones in the search engine market in the US. Yahoo and Bing aren't as big as they used to be by any means, but they're far from dead. And Ecosia and DuckDuckGo are doing alright. And, let's face it, Android is nowhere near the dominance in the mobile market that Windows has enjoyed in the desktop market for the last 30 years.

    2. ma1010 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: I wonder what would have happened...

      I can't give you more than one upvote, sadly. Google's "solution" to the problem is an insult to the EU and anyone else with a modicum of sense. "So you say we've been unfair to other providers, locking them out. Okay, we'll let them have a look in, but they'll have to pay us big bucks for it. Fair enough?"

      This behavior would likely make J.P. Morgan blush, but here's Google doing it with nary a qualm. The EU should fine Google billions for even suggesting something like this. It shows they can't even learn from their mistakes and behave in a civilized fashion. Better yet, throw the board in prison for a while. Maybe that will teach them.

  2. big_D Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Good on them...

    This is supposed to be a sanction to teach Google a lesson for abusing their monopoly, not for them to abuse it further and make money out of their punishment!

    1. tony72

      Re: Good on them...

      This is supposed to be a sanction to teach Google a lesson for abusing their monopoly

      Not really. The sanction is the fine that was levied against Google. Giving other parties the opportunity to be included in the search choice screen is a change of the practice which led to the fine being imposed in the first place.

      And if being included in the search choice screen is valuable, why should Google give it away for free? It doesn't make sense. There's a practical limit to the number of choices that can reasonably be presented to the user. If access was free, every Tom, Dick and Harry would want to be in there. The auction process seems a pretty good way of cutting down the field to serious contenders only.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Good on them...

        "And if being included in the search choice screen is valuable, why should Google give it away for free? It doesn't make sense."

        It does, if you understand the terms 'monopoly' and 'abuse of power'. Any monopoly will, in a well-regulated market economy, require special regulations to stop it leading to market failure. One of those is the inability to extract monopoly rents from anyone and everyone. This would be such an example of abuse of a monopoly position to extract rents.

        1. ds6 Bronze badge
          Joke

          Re: Good on them...

          You're walking down a back alley to get to the post office to send some mail, and this proper lad Google flounces up to you, "Hey friend, 'tis dangerous in these alleys. You need some protection!"

          He holds out a slimy hand, and states a copious sum. But it's a sum you've heard before.

          Google owns these alleys, and none shall traverse its cobblestone without payment.

          Even when the police should intervene, all that happens is a few rival gangs pay their own sum to set up shop. Now, instead of just Google's slithering digits outstretched, you see the likes of Bing McCree, Baidu Qi, and some crazy yahoo! In the end, you still pay the same sum, just to a different bidder... Except everyone keeps going with Google anyway, because they trust the other chaps even less.

      2. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Good on them...

        > if being included in the search choice screen is valuable, why should Google give it away for free?

        You seem to have missed that the actual problem is precisely the control of the search choice. That choice shouldn't remain in Google's control in any way, it should be entirely left to the users, that's all.

        (Didn't downvote you, I never downvote)

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. NogginTheNog

        Re: Good on them...

        Why can't Google just engineer in a link to the Play Store (a filtered list of search engines?) and then let people choose one from there?

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re:being included in the search choice screen

        Try googling 'installable search engines' ? Not sure it's necessary to pay for that

      5. Nick Kew Silver badge

        Re: Good on them...

        That's a lot of downvotes for talking sense ...

        Ecosia's complaints as reported make sense. But Google's response to being bashed by officialdom makes sense too. What is perverse here is that a bunch of spammers (like kelkoo) were able to enlist the support of the EU and get Google punished for what was, in the first instance, Doing the Right Thing by working hard to combat search engine spam. Since the whole motivation was perverse, it was bound to have perverse consequences.

        Now if they'd gone after Google for the embrace-and-extinguish of Usenet and Dejanews, they'd have my full support.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Trollface

    "Google's choice screen artificially creates scarcity where there is none"

    Well yeah. How else is Google going to make it's next billions ?

    1. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: "Google's choice screen artificially creates scarcity where there is none"

      How else is Google going to make it's next billions?

      Maybe selling cures for male pattern baldness, or payday lending, or manipulating credit scores or calling random people and telling them that their Microsoft/Apple computer needs maintenance, or something involving blockchain and cryptocurrency. Trust me, they'll find a way

  4. jpo234

    > It should be up to Android users which search engine they use, and absolutely not up to Google

    That has always been the case. The ballot is about the "default default search engine". Users are free to change this setting to whatever they want.

    1. sorry, what?
      Facepalm

      Users can choose...

      But so many Android users fit the "can't be arsed" profile and just use whatever the default default is that this will have no impact.

      This screen will generally be ignored by most, with a simple touch on "Next", so strikes me as a way to placate the EU while having almost zero impact on Google - other than to get more readies from third party search engines naive enough to take part in the bids.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Users can choose...

        Those very same Android users can usually be very arsed to change the default search engine in Windows from Bing to Google. So if Android had a different default search engine, I suspect most people would change it back to Google.

        1. overunder Bronze badge

          Re: Users can choose...

          "...arsed to change the default search engine... most people would change it back..."

          So, which is it?

          Considering most default search engines are set to Google, anybody who is changing them is moving away from google.

          Google knows that even advertising there are other search engines is incredibly devastating to them.

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: Users can choose...

            Like I said, on the Windows Desktop market, Bing is the default search engine. Almost nobody uses it, they all switch to Google. They could switch to anyone else they wanted to for the same amount of effort, but they choose Google.

            1. overunder Bronze badge

              Re: Users can choose...

              "...Windows Desktop market,"

              Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Please tell me that's not a thing, because if it is, you know that's a spy tool x10. But maybe not, considering only 6 dudes would consider it, and only 1 of them could find it to use it (and that 1 dude would just be too exhausted after finding to even think about configuring it... no way).

              1. Mark 110

                Re: Users can choose...

                I have nothing to spy on. I am very very very dull :-)

                Googles ad placement comes up with very boring things. Whats the point of it all . . .

                1. DiViDeD Silver badge

                  Re: Users can choose...

                  "nothing to spy on. I am very very very dull

                  You should try being very, very anonymous and then inadvertently clicking on a link you were sent by a friend.

                  The link was to a Googley search result for a specific camera bag which she wanted my opinion on.

                  The net result is that every casual game I play, every FarceBok or LinkDin post I read, comes prepackaged with several ads for camera bags. I used to get random ads for nothing that ever really appealed, but for the past 3 months or so, all I get is camera bags.

                  1. LDS Silver badge

                    Re: Users can choose...

                    Those links come with unique identifiers embedded that allows such kind of tracking. Especially if those sharing the link are logged into slurping operators sites.

                2. vtcodger Silver badge

                  Re: Users can choose...

                  Whats the point of it all[?]

                  You have the roles confused. You and I are not the customer. We're the bait. Google's customers are advertisers. And frankly advertisers don't seem to be overly clever. If they were smarter, the ads served up might well targeted and might actually be interesting some of the time.

                  1. DiViDeD Silver badge

                    Re: Users can choose...

                    Steven Rambam tells a story of how he ordered a medical advice book for an elderly neighbour from Amazon some years ago and was bombarded for the next 13 months with ads for incontinence pads!

  5. simonlb Silver badge
    Trollface

    Only 62 million trees?

    If they'd' used anything other than Bing it would be in the trillions!

    1. overunder Bronze badge

      Re: Only 62 million trees?

      Well, besides Google too, unless you substitute "trees" for privacy violations.

  6. Richard Jones 1
    Happy

    I mainly use a PC for searches because searching on a mobile is a pain. The last 20 years made me a Google user. Others search engines I tried failed me. Happily, Google has stopped serving up such delights as 'did I want the Hotel Posidrive Screw Driver'.

    Google does what I need. On the mobile Google usually brings up details of my recent searches a useful function.

    I am all for an easy life now I'm in my mid seventies; the easier the better! I will not stand in your way if you want something different, but please don't stand in my way or complain if I don't care about the problems I do not face.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      but please don't stand in my way or complain if I don't care about the problems I do not face.

      That's not a very nice way to talk to your computer, who stands in front of you as you use it...

      It's ok. I can walk myself off your lawn.

  7. Tromos

    Nag nag nag

    If you do choose another search engine as default, you will likely be frequently pestered to change back to Google. Whenever I use any Google service a dialog appears offering to install the Chrome spyware^h^h^h^h^h^h^hbrowser. There is a 'No thanks' option, but what is lacking is a 'Never' or 'Try me again in 5 years time' option.

  8. The Nazz Silver badge

    Plant a tree night.

    Right, i'm gonna plant a tree tonight, 45 searches should be a doddle. In fact make it two trees.

    Oh, a friend has just advised that 45 searches within pornhub doesn't count, it has to be different sites. Ok, just the one tree after all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Plant a tree night.

      Try searching for The Register instead. I hear users from that website get just as excited as those other websites.

      Disclaimer: Monitor and keyboard wipes not included.

  9. DougS Silver badge
    Go

    They should have bid one cent

    If everyone else did the same, Google wouldn't be able to use their punishment as an opportunity to make more money.

  10. MOH

    We're sorry we abused our dominant position.

    Please send $1M to Sorrydude .....

  11. fishbone

    There are no insults in the business world, if you're stupid enough to accept the offer on the table. That being said words can't describe the depths of hell Google bitches should end in.

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