DuckDuckGo destroys Bing in Google's Android search auction in the EU

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What you need to know

  • Google has revealed the list of search engines it'll be offering to European users as alternatives to its own Search app.
  • DuckDuckGo performed the best in Google's auction, appearing in all markets. Bing only had a presence in the UK.
  • The search ballot will start appearing from March 2020.

Google has now shared the search engines it'll surface to new European Android phone users as alternate choices to its own Google Search service. The firm earlier came under fire in the EU for tying its Android mobile OS to Google Search and Google Chrome. It had previously mandated that companies that wanted to sell devices with the Google Play Store and Google Play Services had to offer Google Search and Chrome as default services.

The EU fined Google $5 billion as a result of an antitrust investigation and ordered the company to offer alternate choices to users and phone makers alike.

Google's Sundar Pichai was disappointed by the decision, saying:

We'll also do more to ensure that Android phone owners know about the wide choice of browsers and search engines available to download to their phones. This will involve asking users of existing and new Android devices in Europe which browser and search apps they would like to use.

Well, now we know the first set of search engines Google will be offering, and it's a bit of surprise in some respects. Microsoft's Bing seriously underperformed, with the rival search engine only appearing as an option in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo will be an option in every market, with the other winners being - in order of frequency -, Privacy Wall, Qwant, Yandex, and GMX.

It's of note that the search engines featured here are as a result of an auction Google held and not the popularity of the search engine in the country. In other words, one could say that Microsoft felt it didn't need to pay for users to choose Bing over Google, while the relatively obscure DuckDuckGo needed to appear in the search ballot to even be a consideration.

It's also a little ironic that Google is giving away places for its Android choice screen via an auction as opposed to a more equitable schema. One could even argue that it violates the spirit of the EU's decision.

Google's search ballot will start showing up widely from March 2020 on new Android devices.

Update: DuckDuckGo was still not pleased with Google's decision to auction out search slots, delivering the following statement to TechCrunch.

We believe a search preference menu is an excellent way to meaningfully increase consumer choice if designed properly. Our own research has reinforced this point and we look forward to the day when Android users in Europe will have the opportunity to easily make DuckDuckGo their default search engine while setting up their phones. However, we still believe a pay-to-play auction with only 4 slots isn't right because it means consumers won't get all the choices they deserve and Google will profit at the expense of the competition.

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