From next year, Android users across Europe will be asked to choose which search engine they want to use as part of setting up a new phone or tablet. Once chosen, it will become the default in the Google Chrome app (if it's installed) and in the search box on the home screen.

Not all search engines will feature, however, as search providers are required to fill out an application form for their chance to "bid for inclusion." Google decided to run a sealed-bid auction where providers state how much they are willing to pay to appear on a per-country basis.

Each country will have a minimum bid threshold and the selection will change based on which European country the user lives in. The three highest bidders who surpass the threshold will be randomly ranked on the menu alongside Google's own search engine.

Should there be a tie, Google will allocate the slots randomly among the tied bidders. If fewer than three search providers meet the threshold, Google will fill the remaining slots with search providers who applied but did not submit a bid. In theory, this means companies could decide to save their money, hope nobody else bids, and then cross their fingers Google assigns them a space.

In a FAQ, Google explains that an auction was a "fair and objective method to determine which search providers are included in the choice screen. It allows search providers to decide what value they place on appearing in the choice screen and to bid accordingly." The number of providers, and their bids, will not be made available to the public, with the winners confirmed by Oct. 31, 2019.

This decision came after Google was made to show Android users alternative browser and search engine apps on the Google Play store in order to comply with an EU antitrust ruling.

Google was fined $5.1 billion last month for making phone manufacturers use Google in the search bar and as the default engine in exchance for access to the latest Android updates. The company also offered them financial incentives.

By Adam Smith


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