If you just put, say, a text-entry search box (or select menu with dozens+ of options?) there to choose any of unlimited number of alternatives (with none on screen to begin with), it will definitely result in even fewer users choosing something other than Google.
An auction is a fair way to determine a group of options, but an auction where one party always wins for free is not. The solution is to break up Google, and force Google to bid for the right to show up on the list on Android-the-company's platform just like everyone else.
Google already pays more to fund Android than it would cost to place in a search engine listing auction. If all you're really suggesting is that they do separate accounting for part of that funding and call it "large bid in search engine listing auction" then nothing changes in practice.
Which is kind of the point. They're already effectively paying for placement by funding Android development in general.
Sounds like it'd be a win for Google as well then. Brilliant.
As an owner, I don't care if one of my companies pays the other one some money. There are probably some accounting details, but ultimately it matters little. Other search engines would be competing for second, third, and fourth place.
The only material difference between the current scenario and that one is that, IRL, Google will continue sponsoring Android even if this auction were insufficient to keep it solvent on its own. Otherwise, the outcome is the same. Of course, in that imaginary world, Android probably would become insolvent at some point, because a free mobile OS is not exactly a big money maker. I wonder who would buy it? See, even that other world naturally tends to become this one.
They'd still be making 30% is it? On every app purchase and in-app purchase on the play store, which is surely in the billions.
There'd at least be the legal hurdle that Google has to actually always be the best choice. Bing could theoretically offer more for the top slot and Android can't factor in the other intangibles of putting Google first anyway like they currently do.
TBH, I find it really interesting that people are complaining so much about this. It's actually a much more competition friendly approach, and less beneficial to Google, than what Apple does with iOS' search default. I guess it's a little different in that for iOS it is Apple aiding and abetting Google's monopoly, whereas with Android it seems like self-dealing. But I have yet to see a suggestion for something else to do that leads to a reasonable outcome.
Auction houses virtually always charge fees, typically as a percent of the close price, with some allocated against the buyer, some against the seller (on the order of ~5-15% on each side).
They also have listing fees for sellers and bidder registration fees for buyers, so if no lots change hands they still cover their expenses.
The requisite hotel rooms for the auction staff are typically comped by the hotel attached to the venue, and venues are often comped as they attract bidder bookings during otherwise slow periods.
Auction houses don't pay themselves to list their own items or merchandize their own services.
It's almost pure upside the auction house. Their big risk is nobody will register to bid and/or buy and next year's auction is dead in the water.
In Google's case, the advertiser is covering both fees, and the user is "paying" (if you will) in terms of giving up their personal data in exchange for search results (more or less) so Google can charge their pool of advertisers more (in aggregate).
A very worrying trend that people support such things so blindly.
Given that this is something entirely orchestrated by Google in an attempt to make lawmakers think that competition is A-OK and no legislation is needed to curb Google’s power, this kind of thing is to be expected.
A “lot of gall” is a very generous interpretation.
But I suspect it would end up being about the same list as the highest-bidders (although Google wouldn't make money from the auction), cause what you have to bid is probably pretty correlated to how many users you have, and there's no way Ecosia would be on the list.
Allow all search engines with more than some small number of European users (say 10,000 monthly active users for six consecutive months, or pick a higher but still broadly attainable threshold) to apply for inclusion for free.
Randomly pick four or five to show on the main screen each time, in randomized order, without treating Google specially. If necessary, have one special slot that cycles randomly among all the top several search engines in Europe, and exclude those from the other slots.
Have a "More options..." link which shows every search engine who has applied, again in randomized order.
But yeah, I don't expect them to be that neutral unless forced.
What's wrong with a simple RAND() function? Give every option an equalish chance of being above the fold.
I suppose deciding that "AAAAAdvantage Searches" shows up on the initial screen, like the old yellow pages, would be one alternative to the highest bidder. Someone might consider that preferable.
This is not a problem that a UX designer would have a hard time with.
The difference here is that Google owns Android and Google doesn't have to bid. In my book, this is the case-in-point demonstration why Android and Chrome are the two properties that Google must be forced to spin off. Letting one company own both the dominant platforms and the dominant services that run on those platforms is a very dangerous mix.
This is a nonsensical argument. What is the practical difference between Google bidding and Google automatically taking a place? If Google bids, that money goes to Google, so it's as if they didn't spend any money. In both cases, by Google taking a spot, Google loses revenue from the bidder who would have otherwise taken that spot.
Such a thing would happen if Android was managed by a separate company.
Also, of course, Google can just lower their own existing Android spending line and inject it back into Search, to zero out any impact on them. Similar to how my local area likes to justify highway toll increases "we'll spend it on education!" but then stripping out education funding elsewhere to compensate, and using it for something else.
This is already the case. Unlike with iOS, Google's apps do not have access to any more APIs than other developers' apps. One could argue that the APIs themselves are prioritized and developed according to the needs of Google's apps far more than the needs of other developers' apps, which I agree is potentially problematic, but without a particular consumer-harming example, it would be impossible to build an antitrust case on that. For example, I might like it if Amazon's App Store could have automatic app upgrade permission on my non-Amazon devices (requiring some API changes in Android to make this secure for app stores not installed on the system partition), but Amazon would have a tough time demonstrating enough consumer harm for the government to take action.
Something like Google's fake consortium from back in the day could have more impact, too. If Android was managed by something akin to the Open Handset Alliance, where significant hardware platform partners had a say in how Android was developed and monetized, it's likely you'd see a really healthy ecosystem of support for it, not controlled by a single entity.
No, wait... That can't be right. According to this thread that's immoral rent-seeking, and Apple would never do that. Those reports must be lies, and Apple has just randomly selected Google to be the default search engine on iOS. It's kind of amazing that Google has gotten lucky in that random selection so many years in a row, but such is life.
Actually, the argument is not that it's rent-seeking, it's that it's anti-competitive. It's not anti-competitive when Apple does it, because Apple doesn't have an equivalent search offering that automatically wins the bidding process. Nice straw man argument, though.
The proposed model is obviously better for search engine competition than what iOS and Firefox do. In those models, there is no user choice: the platform holder takes the highest bid, which based on empirical evidence will be Google. It's way easier for the alternative search engines to get a foot in the door when there are multiple slots up for sale.
(And if Android were split out from Google, they'd go with the iOS model of selling just the default rather than the one where users choose from a list, since it's more profitable and has a simpler setup flow.)
The most common idea being floated in this thread right now is that Google should be part of the bidding and all the proceeds from the auction should be donated to some third party. How is that supposed to increase competition? We know that Google will win one of those spots. From the point of view of search engine. All that proposal will do is bleed Google for a few billions of dollars a year, it will not make it any more nor less likely for users to choose to use alternative search engines.
So no, I don't think that the main worry on people's minds in this thread is the competitiveness of alternative search engines. There seems to be no interest in making it easier for those search engines to gain market share and thus economies of scale. It's all about seeing some punishment be meted out.
(I think there are valid criticisms to be made of the auction format though; seems like it could be made more efficient and fair with some simple changes.)
If we're trying to break up the search monopoly, Google should be paying other search engines to be in it's setup flow, so the money is going to the companies that need it.
So I think saying that the competitors will be bleeding billions of dollars is just not true. Unless they totally misjudge their bids, they should still be in a better position than they are now.
(But I'll happily volunteer to be the third party getting those billions of dollars a year. Sounds like a pretty sweet gig!)
> If we're trying to break up the search monopoly, Google should be paying other search engines to be in it's setup flow, so the money is going to the companies that need it.
Sounds great, I'll happily volunteer for that too!
But more seriously, that sounds like a rather bizarre plan to me. Is it part of any kind of established anti-trust doctrine?
The most competitive alternative (Bing) is owned by a trillion dollar company, controlling one of the biggest operating systems and the biggest browsers. You'd seriously have Google pay Microsoft to make Bing better?
The next one on the list is owned by a mere $250 billion company, so obviously there's no question at all about Verizon needing some handouts.
But what's the next step after that? Google should perhaps give Apple some free money so that they can make iOS more competitive? It's too bad for Google they shut down G+, if they'd waited just a bit longer they could have gotten Facebook to chip in some money to fund its development.
Paying for in-demand services isn't punishment, it's one of the fundamentals of capitalism.
Stop Android from being a monopoly.
This solution has the same problem as the Windows browser ballot — it starts from the assumption that the OS must continue being a monopoly.
Apple doesn't care to compete, they've taken the profitable users and sell them higher and higher margin devices.
Microsoft doesn't care to compete, they killed the windows phone team and then killed the goodwill they had developed by releasing windows mobile 10.
KaiOS doesn't really compete.
Blackberry 10 didn't really sell.
How do we usually stop companies from being monopolies? Do that.
I don't accept that phone operating systems are a natural monopoly and that it's OK to have only 2 companies in a position to control them.
No joke, it's fair. I also doubt Google is auctioning this space for the sake of fairness. Their competitors are going to take a slice of their cake, and this is the most efficient (and legal) way to get as much of it back as possible.
How many of those do you think are... even really usable?
I think it is not unreasonable to suggest that choosing randomly (for default, or for whatever X can show up initially on-screen without scrolling) is going to give many many non-expert users an unusable search experience, and an unusable Android experience to the extent that search is significant.
>The European Union's chief antitrust regulator fined Microsoft Corp. another $1.3 billion (899 million euros) today for what she said were business practices that "continued to stifle competition" after it was ordered to change four years ago.
Today's fine, she said, was applied because Microsoft continued to thumb its nose at the EU for more than a year -- 488 days, Kroes said at one point -- by charging an "unreasonable price" to rivals that licensed Windows' communication protocols to make their own software work more smoothly with the U.S. software maker's server products.
So lets not forget Google is paying apple nearly 10 Billion a year to be its default search engine.
The hypocrisy makes me sick.
The (very good) idea is that Google Search should be competing fairly with the other search engines.
It's not fair to make these other search engines, already the victims of anti-competitive behaviour, pay millions of dollars (or whatever) into Google's bank account to be listed, while Google pays nothing.
It's like if Ford owned the roads and GM had to pay Ford for each car they sold.
1) Excludes Google from Android/Chrome's default search engine options. This clearly doesn't make sense for Google and I don't think there's an easy way to enforce this.
2) Lists all every search engine that exists on the planet. This still doesn't answer the question who should be placed on the top of the list.
3) Break google up into Android/Chrome and the rest. This is not even an option for EU since their jurisdiction doesn't reach to Google.
Maybe Google can say something like, "all of the profits from this auction will go back to the society!", which practically doesn't make any differences to them since the profit from this auction will likely be a minute fraction compared to the Google's yearly revenues.
I know, I know, what about the less popular search engines?
Well. It's better than Google takes all, and customers get easier access to 5 search engines instead of 1. (Yes they can already choose others. Almost no one bothers)
Maybe they could rotate the last 2 choices between a field of say, 20.
Thing is, if no one's heard of the option, I doubt they'll choose it, so there's not much point offering beyond say, 5 choices.
I'm guessing though.
Choice of third party is tricky, but a dedicated or existing trade association that includes them and any interested major competitors on equal terms would probably do it.
The root problem is a trust issue and I still don't see how Google can convince bidders that the auction is run by some entities which won't do any (implicitly) good for Google in return of selecting them, especially Google still owns a full control on picking the "third party". This can be solved if a state picks the third party, but now we have even bigger problems; you will have to enforce the same policy on most of the platform holders with similar issues (virtually every single major tech firms)
It would also harm not for profit search engines.
Why not choose based on popularity?
2) DuckDuckGo has a list of search providers using their !bang query. It’s not exhaustive, but adding one to the list is a form submission to DuckDuckGo.
3) A break up is not necessary: the EU can charge Google increasing fines and significantly hamper Google’s European operations.
I think 1) and 2) together could work: the browser could have no list of search engines but could download a list of search engines from a known good URL when it run for the first time. The owners of the known good URL could be a consortium of search engine providers. There are definitely flaws with this approach, and it gives the user an extra choice, but giving the user this extra choice is the point.
If Google handed administration of the auction over to an independent third party, who would accept all of the paid-in fees from the winners, thus bearing the same cost as everyone else, then it would be a lot harder to make a case against this arrangement.
There are tons of search engines out there, how do you decide which ones to show above the fold on a user’s tiny screen?
And the "tiny screen" doesn't seem to be an issue when picking one of the dozens of languages during the phone's setup. Or any of the countless activities on a phone that overflow one screen.
This particular list shouldn't be treated differently unless it's purely a money grab.
My question still stands and (downvotes and the "small screen" non-issue aside) nobody is able to explain why Google should get a different treatment from Microsoft given the similar position.
I think it's easy to see how customers are harmed by this, their choice becomes the supermarket brand or whoever shelled out the most for shelf space.
So Google search is an android home brand?
(Also why isn't the supermarket thing deemed anti-competitive?)
Indeed, it's great that they've never tried building their entire business model on auctioning off the ad spots in search results. It's much more fair to everyone to just allow anyone to apply for a spot for each keyword for free, and then choose randomly from that set.
IANAL, so I wonder if this really fulfils what Google is trying to achieve legally. They are giving users more choice but they are effectively using their market position (Android) to get more google search usage seemingly unfairly so I would think this would lead to more anti-trust issues for them.
That said, I agree with dahdum, I don't see why any of these providers should get any help in a competitive bid. If Ecosia sees value in being here there is a price to be paid, I would be surprised if they didn't pay for all the advertising they have done.
-0 "Search providers are required to apply for inclusion through a bidding process to become one of three alternative choices to Google Search" - from Article
I really don't understand people's obsession with this aspect of it. Google makes so much money from its search that there is no way that any potential cost to them from having to bid for this spot would have any real competitive impact on the search market.
For default search on iOS, Google already pays Apple more per year than the EU fined Google on this issue.
I think it's kinda crazy that the EU is forcing them to show other search engines to begin with. Only fair that those search engines pay a solid contribution to android development to be featured.
Reminds me of the Microsoft/IE days. At the end of the day better products came along and replaced IE. Showing competitors doesn't solve anything in this case.
Nothing crazy about it.
> "Google spends billions on Android. They are not blocking you from installing other search engines"
if they did that, they would get a clear anti-trust violation I hope. Reading up on some history we see this quote from Wikipedia (The best source): "Compared to the European Decision against Microsoft, the DOJ case is focused less on interoperability and more on predatory strategies and market barriers to entry." If history is good president, and if Android has interoperability with other search engines and there are not predatory strategies then it should be fine right?
I think the word harm, as whalabi uses it, is too ambiguous here, having a better product 'Harms' your competitor in some way, but we wouldn't file anti-trust for this reason. The question is more like "is google behaving in a predatory manner using android". Looking at the US case, I would be tempted to say no, after all IE/Edge are defaults on windows, and this is fine so long as those two aforementioned conditions are maintained. But defaults are powerful, powerful things. Bing has come a long way almost solely because of the power of defaults , so maybe it should be more regulated in this regard.
Is leaving the default alone part of the conditions they have to comply with to ship Google's apps?
I am sure the work Ecosia does is commendable but reselling search engine results is not going to plant enough trees to save the planet. It might provide their founders with a comfortable salary plus an ego-boost for do-gooding but I might as well do my Christmas shopping from The Hunger Site (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunger_Site) for the good it does.
The place you start is likely to be close to your expertise. In Ecosia's case, it could scale massively and they could replace the search stack with their own as the business grows.
Until a carbon tax is implemented, most businesses trying to have a positive environmental impact will be hard pressed to find financial stability.
What is their "expertise", though? Being an effective search engine requires expertise in search. If Ecosia is going to outsource that entirely to a third party, like Bing... what does that make them an expert at? Donating to charity?
I agree, Ecosia isn't a compelling alternative. It's the same business model as Credo Wireless and various do-good credit cards. Good for them for speaking up though.
I'm only a moderate Bing user but still get like $10/mo in rewards.
This would create an incentive for search engines to spend the money on ad campaigns for brand awareness instead of bidding for google. Win win for the market
From that potential designs should be obvious.