Android users will be able to select a search engine of their own choosing when setting up a new smartphone from next year following a new ruling by the European Commission (EC).
From 2020, Android users will be presented with a “choice screen” when they fire up a device for the first time, with the selection available dependent on the country that the person resides in. The new mandated options are part of Google’s attempts to comply with EC rulings after it was fined $5bn last year.
However, while the option to select a different search engine should be beneficial for the industry, search rivals have criticised the use of an action process for those that want to feature in the list of potential search providers on Android.
Search providers need to meet certain criteria to qualify, such as offering a free app and supporting local languages and must apply to Google by the middle of September. A list of search engines for respective countries will then be drawn up and confirmed by 31 October.
“This is really disappointing news. Ecosia is a not-for-profit search engine – we use our revenue to plant trees in areas affected by deforestation or desertification, not to get into bidding wars,” Ecosia’s CEO Christian Kroll said.
He added: “If we choose to enter an auction and pay Google for the privilege of being a search engine option on Android, this will potentially be at the expense of millions of trees we could otherwise have planted.”