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?
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.
You've just shifted the problem down the stack.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It wouldn't change things competitively, but it would be good for the charity.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Its the very definition of what makes a monopoly dangerous, the ability to outspend any competitor and force them out of the market.
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?
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As for "having their speech" - they already have it but nobody has to help them spread it.
The object of the 1st fragment is not the same as the person described in the 2nd fragment.
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."
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.
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.
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,..
Serving banner ads across sites does not even remotely compare.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?).
1 Don't be a thin wrapper around an inferior search engine. Apparently Bing cannot index "JS only" websites.  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)
I believe the EU antitrust rule disagrees.
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.
What makes you think that paying to disable ads also disables data gathering? Does Amazon say this?
Note that the EC can yet still tell Google that it's solution isn't adequate and not compliant.
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.
> you still have the choice to buy an other smartphone
Not really. Hence the ruling.
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?
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.
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.
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?
 "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/
Man, Google is getting some SERIOUS mileage out of removing "Don't Be Evil" from their mission statement.
> 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