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Why we're saying no to Google (ecosia.org)
204 points by Yrlec 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 89 comments
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Sorry, but this really is the best way to go about this. What's the alternative?

1. Random list of all search engines - most of which may be far worse/less advanced/more evil (read: poor & desperate) than Google.

2. Hand picked list by Google? If you want neutrality, then you are joking... Right?

3. 'Independent' committee who decide every so often - I'm not against this, but who's going to fund this? I can guess the two main companies in a whim (cough: Google, Microsoft). This is basically a less-transparent auction.

4. Auction-based. You call it 'selling off to the highest bidder', I call it allocation of limited resources - let's call this what it is, an advert.

5. Android switches to a paid model, Google completely closes off the platform and charges carriers directly for their services.

I really do like what Ecosia is doing but consider this:

1. Google is not cutting off your ability to download Ecosia - there are still dozens of search engines in the Play Store.

2. Ecosia benefits from Google Play infrastructure without having to contribute back because it's free for developers. Obviously Google benefits from having mindshare/user base, but there's still a lot of value for developers that Apple charges far more for.

I think Google should have given Android users a choice long ago, but I don't believe it's completely fair to call this auction move 'evil'.

What else could they do?


Maybe option 6: Don't have a search app by default?

I don't see why such an app is required. If user need to search for something, they can use their browser. And if someone wants to have a browser app/widget they can download it from the Play store.

This "solution" by Google is just a way to prevent more fines, while most people will still have a huge Google search bar on their phone and Google can make some extra money.


Then who chooses which browser is Android's default? And which search engine is the browser's default?

You've just shifted the problem down the stack.


I thought this was only about the search app/widget, not also about the browser and the browsers default search engine. My bad.

But I don't think it's just shifting down the problem.

Right now the search app, browser and search engine of the browser are all Google. I don't think an unremovable* search widget on phones is necessary. And I think Google wants to keep it there because they know people will choose Google, especially since that one is installed by default and users just get the choice between installing an extra app or skip that step.

*unless you install a new launcher.


The EU had a solution for that when Microsoft was doing the same thing with browsers: post install offer the user a choice of web browsers, which IIRC was based on market share.

Which is exactly what google is being forced to implement here, except that because there are thousands of search engines, they're auctioning rather than picking the top 10.

That’s a nice compromise, I like that as a default

are you advocating for the same solution here with search engines...? Because that would just give the same result.

> What else could they do?

Mandate that the "choice screen" must display the top 5 search engines in the EU by market share as identified by an established, independent market research firm. If the regulator or a competitor feel that Google is not executing this mandate in good faith they can take Google to court.

Done. Justice works. Pay for placement, my ass.


This has basically the same effect as an auction model except that you totally lock out the smaller search engines like Ecosia.

Is improving the market for startups like Ecosia your goal, or just to decrease Google's marketshare (by increasing the market share of other big tech search engines like Bing/Yahoo/Amazon Product Search)?

Being somebody's search engine is scarcity. As a society we've been solving scarcity for thousands of years with auction-based models.


> Is improving the market for startups like Ecosia your goal, or just to decrease Google's marketshare (by increasing the market share of other big tech search engines like Bing/Amazon Product Search)?

While supporting startups is a good aspiration, it's not the purpose of antitrust action. The job of the regulator should be to punish Google for its illegal conduct, prevent it from committing additional crimes, and create opportunities for competitors so that a free market can re-establish itself.

Whether the competitors are big or small is outside of its purview. A competitive market for general web search in which there are 5 big healthy firms working to win over customers is absolutely an improvement over a monopoly.

Allowing Google to further enrich itself via the remedy does not support these goals and I suspect there's zero chance the EU will let it happen.

Also, the regulator should ensure that Google doesn't do silly things like highlight Amazon Product Search on a screen where you choose which engine you want to search the whole web with. I'm fairly confident they will do their job. These guys are not amateurs.


> While supporting startups is a good aspiration, it's not the purpose of antitrust action.

Antitrust action is about keeping everyone in the market on a level playing field and startups have the most to gain from this. Although to be fair, you're right - the EU ruling did not really tell Google how to implement their decision. Maybe they should've been more specific?

> Also, the regulator should ensure that Google doesn't do silly things like highlight Amazon Product Search on a screen where you choose which engine you want to search the whole web with. I'm fairly confident they will do their job. These guys are not amateurs.

I have zero faith in EU regulators after Article 11/13.


Actually, your first choice, i.e. random list, would be great! If, as a consumer, the search engine you end up with would end up not being to your liking, you'd hit the browser extension marketplace and look for another default search engine and search engines would face (more or less) a level playing field.

This MAY seem like an absurdity, if one has been in the internet channel economics business for so long that one can't remember what a free market looks like, but THAT would be a free market.


If it is a random list of all search engines, I will be registering 10,000 search engines named every dictionary word...

...and all of them will be shit meaning that, in every single case, the user will go looking for another default search engine using the browser extension marketplace or the web or a review website or some other discovery facility that's actually useful. Your 10.000 search engines business would go broke and they would disappear from the list of search engines getting randomly selected from. Making the random list useful again. Behold the power of free market economics. It could only be a long-term equilibrium if it actually delivered something that was in the consumer's best interests, rather than being designed for the purpose of handing the largest-possible pile of cash to Google.

The real clash in opposing world-views that's going on here is that the competition authorities are trying to enforce a system of free consumer choice. And there are a bunch of people in Silicon Valley doing a Jack Nicholson impression going "Free choice? You want free choice? The consumer can't HANDLE free choice!"

You do (1). Give me an alphabetically-ordered list of search engines and let me choose for myself. If the user takes .0001% of the responsibility here and makes anything resembling an informed decision, everyone wins — Google avoids antitrust action, the user gets the search engine they want, and all competitors are represented.

Maybe the auction proceeds could go to charity?

It wouldn't change things competitively, but it would be good for the charity.


They could give the choice to the user... When you boot up your phone for the first time, it would ask you to choose a default from a list of the 5-10 most popular search engines, sorted at random?

This sounds like 'I want money by being "not google" and thus people have to like me'.

The linked website doesn't point to anything else but that they're allegedly planting trees for (an unknown percentage of the money collected by) showing ads to users. Which is nice, but if you want that I support tree planting initiatives explicitly (which I do), why don't you just encourage someone doing just that, maybe by pointing out sites which actually encourage to do that, like https://www.plant-for-the-planet.org?


The linked website doesn't point to anything else but that they're allegedly planting trees for (an unknown percentage of the money collected by) showing ads to users

I don't really care what Ecosia's motive is; I never even heard of it before now. What Google is doing is simply wrong. Anyone who can't see that has been in the SV bubble too long.

"Oh, the EU says we have to give people a choice to promote fairness and competition? Let's figure out how to make money off of it!"

It would be interesting if none of the other search engines participate in this auction. Then what is Google going to do? Ignore the EU and suck up another billion dollar fine?


> It would be interesting if none of the other search engines participate in this auction. Then what is Google going to do? Ignore the EU and suck up another billion dollar fine?

The FAQ answers that already. It will choose randomly from among the search engines that register and don't offer a bid (and charge them nothing). That would be a really surprising outcome, as it would suggest that no one other than Google derives any economic value from being the search engine on an Android device.

FWIW, I have trouble imagining that this process was designed without consulting with the EU to ensure it would comply. If Google did indeed design this without ensuring that it is in compliance, that would imply that whoever they have working on this is colossally stupid.


> .. it would suggest that no one other than Google derives any economic value ..

Or that they refuse to pay. It still seems anti-competitive as Google doesn't have to pay, i.e. you can't outbid Google.


I have a bunch of odd questions.

For example, "Our servers run on 100% renewable energy, and every search request removes 1kg of CO2 from the atmosphere."

As far as I can tell it's on AWS and Cloudflare/Ghost hosted blog. It acts and feels like a Bing proxy with Bing ads with really nothing else, but they say they have 34 full time salaried employees? I'm super confused.


Ecosia has its own narrative to push but the real problem is much deeper than that.

By setting up an auction system, Google has effectively ensured that ALL of the options on the screen will be Google search syndication partners, because no primary search competitor (Bing/Yahoo, Yandex, Baidu) can afford to compete in EU countries. Google will give up some app market share but all search traffic will flow back to them at what is likely to be a very low TAC. If I'm Google, I just view this new TAC as part of a separate, on-going EU fine.

Google is very clever in their approach to these regulatory challenges. However, the EU anti trust authorities are more aware and empowered than ever before. It will be interesting to watch how this develops.


> because no competitor (Bing/Yahoo, Yandex, Baidu) can afford to compete in EU countries

You're saying that Google syndicators value a unit of traffic more highly than Bing/Yahoo/Yandex/Baidu do? That does not seem especially likely to me. Perhaps in some small countries, but I would be surprised if Bing, Yandex, and Baidu don't bid in e.g. France, Germany, etc.


The value goes beyond a unit of traffic alone if you can use it to help maintain an effective monopoly, as opposed to trying to compete with one.

Its the very definition of what makes a monopoly dangerous, the ability to outspend any competitor and force them out of the market.


The ongoing attacks on Google are crazy to me. Google has done wonders for all of us - remember how terrible search engines used to be? Do you remember how terrible email was before Gmail? How awful MapQuest was before Google maps?

In my opinion these attacks are a paid PR driven distraction from the truly evil actors in the world - see the losses of freedom for people in Hong Kong or citizens of Russia who been imprisoned or killed.

When will hacker news end together to fight true evil instead of minor infractions?


remember how terrible search engines used to be? Do you remember how terrible email was before Gmail? How awful MapQuest was before Google maps?

You seem to be under the impression that Google is the only company that could have achieved this. Fastmail is proof that this is simply not true. Google was the leader, and used slimy tactics to kill competition wherever it could. That's not innovation, that's monopoly.

Here's the corollary to your statement:

"Remember how great the internet was when there were lots of choices for services? Remember when web sites competed to produce the best content in order to attract readers, instead of gaming Google's SEO? Remember when sites didn't have to make separate AMP versions of their content? Remember when you could surf the web and not be tracked from site to site to TV to store? Remember when your credit card purchases were between you and your bank, and not handed over to a Mountainview advertising company? Remember when you bought into an internet service and it would keep running until it went out of business, instead of just being randomly terminated for no reason?" I could go on.


None of your remember whens support your thesis.

> Remember when sites didn't have to make separate AMP versions of their content?

This one contradicts your "kill competition" narrative. Any search engine can implement its own AMP cache, and all the major ones do. A slimy kill competition tactic would be to demand publishers integrate directly with Google instead, like Apple News or FB Instant Articles.

> Remember when web sites competed to produce the best content in order to attract readers, instead of gaming Google's SEO?

This also contradicts your thesis because it's actually a benefit to competitors instead of an example of Google killing competition. Competitors that use different algorithms from Google are less likely have their rankings gamed by SEO black hats, causing their results to appear comparatively better.

> Remember when you bought into an internet service and it would keep running until it went out of business, instead of just being randomly terminated for no reason?

No, I don't remember when this was ever the case.

Actual examples of killing competition are things like making it difficult to use alternate app stores, push notification services, and location services on Android. Enabling some of these would be difficult (not impossible) to do securely, and Google has no incentive to expend resources to enable them, but a working regulatory body could require it for the public good.


Do you remember how terrible email was before Gmail? How awful MapQuest was before Google maps?

Those aren't the reason why some people are down on Google. The damage that they're doing to the public discourse is one of the things that concerns people.


That is a very strange charge against a search engine - frankly it sounds like the sort of thing that would get the same jury which sentenced Socrates to hemlock to cry bullshit.

Socrates was saying things people didn't like. Google is hiding things they don't like, and trying to make it seem like people like other things more.

Ah that charge - not liking that their bubble isn't universal and declaring "No it is the children that are wrong and declaring Google is rigged against them.

Blaming them for the state of society is sheer scapegoating as frankly society can and has fucked itself up far more without any outside involvement. It is like accusing rock music of making teenagers rebellous when it is really the result of development of agency,nand finding the framework they are under constraining, and discontent with choices made for them.

They get shit no matter what they do directionality. If they let algorithms guide it pure they are "promoting radicalization" by trying to serve the user with engagement. If they hide disturbing suggested searched they are "censorsing". The true purpose isn't to be satisfied but to try to bully for control.

The whole damn point of a search engine is to prioritize.


declaring "No it is the children that are wrong and declaring Google is rigged against them."

The kids are alright. There are Google whistle-blowers coming forward to about Google's manipulation, and there are internal documents corroborating this.

It is like accusing rock music of making teenagers rebellious when it is really the result of development of agency

No, it's like calling out the media trying to push that narrative.

The true purpose isn't to be satisfied but to try to bully for control.

Bingo! So the solution is just to let people have their speech.

The whole damn point of a search engine is to prioritize.

When it helps things go viral that people want to see, this is being done correctly. When it's pushing an agenda, even though what's being pushed doesn't have traction, for the sake of ad dollars, and to prop up dying industries, then this is corruption.


What "whistleblowers"? Proven liar and manipulative editor, felon, and direct cause of a spree shooting James O'Keefe and his mark of inaccuracy Project Veritas?

As for "having their speech" - they already have it but nobody has to help them spread it.


What "whistleblowers"? Proven liar and manipulative editor, felon, and direct cause of a spree shooting James O'Keefe and his mark of inaccuracy Project Veritas?

The object of the 1st fragment is not the same as the person described in the 2nd fragment.

As for "having their speech" - they already have it but nobody has to help them spread it.

It's one thing to "not spread" something. It's another thing entirely when there are people who want information, even want to pay for it, and big companies get in the way to push their own agenda. It's not just the most radical segments this applies to, but lots of normal people nearer to the center. Also, it's really something that big companies do this, all the while claiming they're "platforms" not "publishers."


Google is a business built on mass surveillance.

I'd gladly go back to pre-Google search and MapQuest if they weren't based on mass surveillance as well. Sadly, they were. Many if not most internet businesses are. The problem runs much deeper than Google, but they're one of the biggest offenders.


Those were all achieved pre-IPO. The MBAs run Google now and they want unconstrained growth at all costs. Socially conscious principles are worthless distractions to these people.

I don't know, Project Fi is pretty awesome. There are so many industries they've disrupted for the better. They're certainly not as innocent as they were in the past, but they're getting a lot of disproportionate hate right now.

Google would have been better off with a decentralized solution subsidizing WISPs, than trying to build out fiber infrastructure using contractors. Google wants to be a vertical monopoly, which is a massive coordination problem.

Project Fi (the cell service provider, though I think it's just called Google Fi) is a very different entity than Google Fiber.

Your "dont throw the baby out with the bathwater" sentiment i find criminally underrated in todays cancel-culture.

Its so mindless and terrifying, like the mechanism for the banality of evil was just copy and pasted but since its not ethnonationalism no one notices or cares.

To understand how google got the way it is requires an acknowledgement from all of our direct and vigorous contributions. The parable of the frog and scorpion is one of shared responsibility, not of faultless victim and malcious aggressor.


This is such a strange comment. Just because Google makes a good product - like Google Maps - means we should overlook search manipulation, rampant privacy violations, etc.?

It's baffling.


TBH - I much preferred alta vista's search language to google's 'best guess' approach. I also dislike gmail's UI. I mostly stay with it because of inertia these days. DDG is nice - but needs a larger search index.

The thing is, none of those things were terrible at all.

The competition was what made those services better. Now there is situation where is almost no competition. Which is killing the possibility to get even better services.

Google has gone its way to the mega corporation where nothing else matters but money. And they are moving into direction where this money is comming from worse possible sources.

Regarding "true evil", to some people google IS true evil. And based of their conduct in last 5 years it is hard to argue.

If you want some insight, read: https://www.amazon.com/Age-Surveillance-Capitalism-Future-Fr...

> Do you remember how terrible email was before Gmail? How awful MapQuest was before Google maps?

No? There was nothing wrong with email without g. I am still using it and having my own mail server. And now you have OpenStreetMaps, I don't use Google Maps, when I want map, I want MAP, not map&ads&suggestions&search&reviews,..


True evil is MBS ordering the murder of journalist Khasshogi. True evil is invading and conquering Crimea. True evil is murdering your generals with anti-aircraft guns or watching dogs tear them apart while still alive.

Serving banner ads across sites does not even remotely compare.


So, what you are saying is it's fine because russians and north koreans ?! do way worse things... did I get that right ? How is that even contributing to the discussion ?

They just had to keep themselves out of politics, but they did not and now they're hated from the left and the right.

> remember how terrible search engines used to be?

Um, Altavista was better than Google for a very long time.

And I STILL cry that I can't search and then get a graphical clustermap in order to drill down to what I want. (Yeah, when I search for Python I'm probably not looking for reptiles).


Altavista was completely useless compared to even the first version of Google. You had to prepend + to every search word and even then most of the results were spam or irrelevant.

> an unknown percentage

Do like one or two google searches and you'll see a monthly transparency report. (https://blog.ecosia.org/ecosia-financial-reports-tree-planti...)

Spend another five minutes doing research and it feels like Ecosia goes above and beyond to make their purpose pretty legitimized. E.g. the company is a certified b-corporation. The founders donated their ownership of the company back to the share. (https://blog.ecosia.org/trees-not-profits/)

Sure, google has done a great job building the ecosystem. But Ecosia doesn't appear to deserve the skepticism I see here in the comments.


No surprise that HN goes straight for the ad hominem again.

This thing doesn't address the problem it was actually meant to address which is to stop an anticompetitive practice. The spirit of the law in relation to antitrust is that you can't abuse a monopoly in one market to gain a monopoly in another. That's why it wasn't acceptable that Google's Android would set Google to be the default search engine and offer no other options.

Now Google says to those other search engines: Hey, you CAN be the default. But you're going to have to give us ALL your profits.

How is that any less anti-competitive than what they were doing before?

Footnote: Why am I saying ALL of their profits? Well it's four slots. Google is going to be one of them. Microsoft and Yahoo are going to bid whatever it takes to be on the list. -- Now there's ONE slot left for everyone who isn't part of the existing search oligopoly like Ecosia, Qwant, DuckDuckGo and so forth.

Now imagine if this was open outcry: Ecosia bids X dollars. Qwant outbids them by offering X+1 dollars for that fourth slot. Well: If Ecosia knows they would still be profitable even if they had to pay X+2 dollars, that's what they're going to bid, isn't it? They hit a limit only at the point where they know that the deal would turn unprofitable. The guy that gets the slot would, in open outcry, end up paying the next guy's profit plus one dollar. But that's not the model. They're doing sealed bids and you'll have to actually pay what you bid, so... -- That's why I'm saying ALL their profit.


So, let's imagine that Android was an independent entity from Google. Obviously selling the default search engine placement would be one of their main forms of monetization, just like it's for Firefox and iOS.

How would that monetization be done? We know from Firefox and iOS what happens if you sell the outright default with no selection: Google will buy it basically everywhere. That won't increase competition in search at all. To achieve that, you'd need to sell multiple slots. Which is exactly what this proposal ends up doing.

If the behavior of search engine selection ends up exactly the same in Google-owned Android and in the best-case scenario for an independent Android, where's the problem?

> They're doing sealed bids and you'll have to actually pay what you bid, so... -- That's why I'm saying ALL their profit.

That seems like a fair criticism though. In addition to the issues with first-price blind bids, a year seems like a really long interval. If it was e.g. monthly, there would at least be some scope for iterative price discovery.


Well, let's just observe that all of the players who it is SUPPOSED to be helping, like DuckDuckGo, Qwant, Ecosia, etc have all gone on the record pretty much the second this was announced, saying that they DON'T LIKE IT. So there has to be something there which is a marked deviation from what the industry structure currently is that is to their disadvantage.

> If the behavior of search engine selection ends up exactly the same in Google-owned Android and in the best-case scenario for an independent Android, where's the problem?

Do you really not see a difference between a company making the highest bid at an auction, and that same company owning the auction house and getting an infinite bid for free?

Say Boeing and a bunch of smaller companies are bidding on various defense contracts. But then Boeing gets fully nationalized and they start bidding zero dollars for everything, because it all goes back in the same federal budget. When the competitors complain, Boeing responds "well, we all know we would have won anyway even if we had stayed a private company, so the end result to the Pentagon is the same - they get Boeing aircraft. Where's the problem?". Is that a fair market?


I can't map your analogy to this case at all, it just ends up as total nonsense.

Android seems to be the federal government, so Boeing is Google, and bidding for a defense contract is bidding for search engine provider placement. But the flow of the money is the wrong way around (the government is the entity paying, while Android is the entity receiving payments). And the other mismatch is that the search engine auction has four slots each of exactly the same value, while contracts for military airplanes seem to be single-sourced. If Boeing wins the JSF bid with the X-32, there won't be a F-35 contract for Lockheed.

What you're proposing is that not one, not two, not three, but four other companies figure out a way of monetizing search more effectively than Google. (Judging from iOS, the count is at 0 right now). If that happens, there's no point in worrying about Google having a dominant position anyway, since their core business must be totally screwed.

(Would you be happy with an auction where Google needs to put in a synthetic bid based on the actual observed value of a mobile search user?).


If you are going to go after Google, you really should do a much better job. And there are very good reasons to reduce Google's dominance, but this whiny approach isn't helping.

1 Don't be a thin wrapper around an inferior search engine. Apparently Bing cannot index "JS only" websites. [1] Improve your search quality first. Unless your search quality is remarkable in at least some small niche, you are probably not even going to get on the radar.

2 "Google is trying to create artificial scarcity" - As others in this thread have pointed out, no search engine is actually blocked on Android devices to the best of my knowledge. Android setup screen is completely Google's prerogative, and if you don't want to participate in the auction, fine. Save the money for better things (see point 4).

3 "Purpose-driven search engines will be crowded out by profit-hungry rivals" If you use Bing, aren't you already supporting non-"purpose driven" search engines? Is Bing's purpose somehow superior to Google's purpose? If all search engines became "purpose driven", you can be pretty damn sure that the quality will take a big hit.

4 Focus on getting word of mouth in more intelligent ways, less expensive ways. Why not go after Google where they are actually vulnerable? So many popular independent websites get hit randomly by all kinds of Google updates. Make no mistake, a lot of them would be very happy to promote alternative search engines. Find these websites, build relationships with the people who run them, and sponsor their work. It is just as important a mission in my view, plus who will say no to a chance to promote a good cause (assuming Ecosia.org are running everything on the up-and-up)

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20605484


> Android setup screen is completely Google's prerogative

I believe the EU antitrust rule disagrees.


This behaviour of Google shows that the fines of the EU are still not high enough.

It shows me to me that the EC shouldn’t have meddled to begin with. Android is free but Google isn’t providing it out of the goodness of its heart. If it can’t recoup its costs from offering the Google suite of apps (including search), then Android will be monetized by other search engines paying to be included in the options. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

I'd be okay with your objection if I could pay to have the spying/data gathering turned off, like the Kindles offer with ads/no ads. But you can't, probably because the world would go crazy if someone finally puts a price on personal data.

Sucks if their business model isn't profitable with current legislation, but they aren't the first company something like that has happened to. And they're hardly a bastion of ethics and morality, which is fine (I'm not stupid and realize how companies work), but I find it hard to feel like there's a great injustice here.


> if I could pay to have the spying/data gathering turned off, like the Kindles offer with ads/no ads

What makes you think that paying to disable ads also disables data gathering? Does Amazon say this?


No mate, it was just an example, an analogy. Although my Kindle works pretty well without internet connectivity. Much harder to do with a phone, kind of defeats the purpose.

To me, it demonstrates the fines aren't an adequate remedy: Google still turned it into a profit model. The EC needed to split up Google, and force Google to divest Android if they wanted to remain in business there. (Note that if you ask Google why they created Android, it reads something like "out of the goodness of our heart", but it's bull. It's about ensuring everyone's on a platform that defaults to Google services for everything.)

Note that the EC can yet still tell Google that it's solution isn't adequate and not compliant.


Is your suggestion here that google be barred from monetizing android? That goes well beyond anything having to do with anticompetitive practice.

No, however, tying Android to Google Search (even through a supposedly competitive market, where Google always wins a space, and Google makes money either way) is illegal.

Google can monetize Android pretty successfully through a way it already also does: Selling apps in the Play Store. And if Google was forced to divest Android, it is likely that is how the newly independent Android would fund itself.

In fact, if Google were forced to give up Android, the proposed search engine bidding process would work fairly: Google would have to compete and bid and pay to be listed just like everyone else.


Google can monetize. They can charge for Android and ask a fee per phone which you pay when you buy the phone. But Google choose to break the law and accept the fact that it will be fined because in the end it has more profit and that will cause a lot of irritation and higher penalties from the EU. And probably someone will cry about faul play as well.

One of the issues with the EC fines is that they leave it up to Google to invent a remedy. Similar to how a child who doesn't want to do a chore might do a bad job in hope that they won't be assigned again, Google can try to engineer a worse outcome as a "fix". If the EC is smart, they won't fall for it.

I’m not sure to understand why google has to discriminate itself on its own products...? If you are not happy with Google products, you still have the choice to buy an other smartphone. And you can change your search engine afterwards anyway. Its already a huge shot in the feet to propose other search engines upon installation.

Society chooses to discourage anticompetitive behavior because competition fosters innovation and leads to prosperity. If you’re fine with Google, great—let’s let others have a choice so that Google can be encouraged to work harder and make an even better product.

The problem is that Google is in fact discriminating: its products vs others', leveraging dominant position in smartphone OS market to dominate search.

> you still have the choice to buy an other smartphone

Not really. Hence the ruling.


> By artificially limiting user options, Google is creating scarcity where there is none.

Does this refer to only the default selections screen, or will users be unable to choose a search provider that doesn't participate in the auction? I.e. there's no "other" option to type in a URL?


This entire blog post reads pretty terribly to me. It's yet another bing search result 'reseller' with no real pros to using it..

Users can still just choose the engine they want elsewhere. This appears to be first-launch only. Doesn't affect Firefox from the Play store either.


The FAQ on the auction page clearly indicates that users will be able to select whatever search provider they want, after device set up. This just affects the options that are shown at device setup. Google is using a price mechanism to determine who should be included in the pre-installed set of search providers, essentially.

I think we are looking at this the wrong way. It is not about other competitors, it is how much daily users will not move away from Google search.

If the startup advice about "build a product your users will love" is true then we certainly are not seeing a compelling competitor. A few good efforts are there, including DDG, but none with mass appeal.

Just non-cooperating with Google does not solve the issue. Even Ecosia, from comments in this thread, seems to have unclear resources and mission. So why should I as a user use them? Are they also not simply using marketing tactics instead of building an awesome product? Which, BTW, is mindbogglingly difficult.


There_is_no_scarcity. Mobile screens are not that small. 1) a list of all search engines b)"search for your search engine" c) no default search set at all, people add it themselves.

Looks like there are three spots. Oddly, Google is using a first-price auction rather than their more usual second-price auction [1]. I wonder why?

In any case, it seems weird not to submit a bid at all. There must be some price above zero that's worth it to them?

[1] "Google will use a first-price sealed-bid auction to select the other general search providers that appear in the choice screen. Google will conduct auctions on a per-country basis for the period from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. Following the initial round of auctions, any subsequent rounds will occur once per year." https://www.android.com/choicescreen/


Google is moving from the second-price auction.

https://support.google.com/admanager/answer/9298211?hl=en


If they know they will never win the auction then refusing to bid has better optics. They're probably making the case for another EU bailout.

I feel pretty strongly that Google (and Apple) should be forced to offer a choice for default search engine on their mobile devices. Microsoft was pretty handily sued and accused of antitrust for not offering this option on Windows desktop browsers. Google benefitted a great deal from that and it only makes sense that they should have to play by the same rules.

That's exactly the process this article is referencing. Google is being forced to offer a default choice in the EU. They are using a market-based auction price method to determine which of their competitors value the spots the most. The company in question has an objection as to how the options are being selected.

Safari on iOS does (options are Google, Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo on iOS 12.4). A brief search indicates that there are similar options on Android as well, though I don't have a device to confirm.

>Android users deserve the option to freely choose their search engine, and that choice should not be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Man, Google is getting some SERIOUS mileage out of removing "Don't Be Evil" from their mission statement.


That phrased stopped being their mission statement in the spring of 2018.

It's still very much in there.

From: https://abc.xyz/investor/other/google-code-of-conduct/

> And remember… don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right – speak up!

The problem was that it was moved from near the top to being near the bottom (though it's own paragraph). Sadly there were lots of very inaccurate headlines like this:

> Google Removes 'Don't Be Evil' Clause From Its Code of Conduct


Thanks for pointing that out. It's shocking how little people who complain about Google actually know about what they're criticizing.



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