Australia wants Google to include a “choice screen” for search engines on Android phones

Australia wants Google to include a

The ACCC finds that Google is dominating the online search market and has therefore harmed competition and consumers, so it demands the search giant to include a mandatory search engine “choice screen” that will enable people to easily choose what search engine they want to use on Android. Australia wants Google to put a search engine ‘choice screen’ on Android phones.

Many nations have been investigating Google and other internet behemoths for anti-competitive behaviour in recent years. According to ZDNet, Australia is renewing its push for Google to give additional search alternatives on Android in a separate screen. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission wants Google to offer a search engine selection panel on Android phones. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), more than a third of Android users do not know how to change the default browser on their smartphone. As a result, the institution wants Google to offer a specific panel on Android for selecting your search engine.

Highlights

  • Additionally, the ACCC says in the report that Google currently owns 94% of the online search market, and this high percentage is mainly due to the fact that Google Search is the default search engine for Google Chrome and Apple Safari. Chrome and Safari currently hold a combined browser market share of over 80% on desktop and almost 90% on mobile devices. Another point in the report is that Google has gained significant value from the fact it is the default search engine for Safari. Estimations predict that Google receives around $8 to $12 billion per year in ad revenue just from being Safari’s default search engine, as well as being the default provider for search queries for Siri and Spotlight.

  • This “choice screen” will be a setup page that should present users with a number of possible search engines to use, instead of just sending them to a preset default search engine. This way, users can make an informed choice on how they want to proceed. This could also help Google competitors expand. Especially, users will have more options to choose search engines and take also into account privacy and how personal data is collected and used. The request to include a “choice screen” on Android was published as a part of the Commission’s third interim report, which was focused on the market dominance of Google Search.

The “screen choice” concept is not an entirely new thing, as Google has implemented the measure two years ago for new Android devices in some European countries due to regulations from the European Union. However, the ACCC finds the EU solution with a “limited impact” because of its design and the fact it only applies to new devices. The ACCC stated that the measure should initially apply to new and existing Android mobile devices across all search access points on these mobile devices, and it should include restricting a search results provider from tying or bundling search services with other goods or services.

The report also highlights that Google’s royalty payments that the company pays to Mozilla for having Google Search as a default search engine have contributed to over 90% of Mozilla’s Firefox annual global revenue. Australia wants Google to put a search engine ‘choice screen’ on Android phones. The issue with the market dominance and control is that it makes the area less innovative, while different services have limited reach. For example, services that collect minimal data and have an emphasis on privacy such as DuckDuckGo or Brave get limited reach.

According to the report, less than a third of responders to the 2021 ACCC consumer survey were aware that privacy-focused search engines and browsers existed, despite 70% of the people feeling concerned with the data and personal info collection by browsers and search engines. On top of that, 35% of the participants in the survey didn’t know or were not sure how to change the default browser on their smartphone.