29 September 2020

Nobody seems to give a crap about Google’s monopoly on search, not even Google

Quick summary of the situation, from the Choice Screen webpage on the Android website:

On August 2, 2019, following the European Commission’s July 2018 Android decision, Google announced that it would implement a choice screen for general search providers on all new Android phones and tablets shipped into the European Economic Area (EEA) where the Google Search app is pre-installed. This updated Help Center article describes a modified choice screen design that was developed in consultation with the European Commission.

The choice screen will appear during initial device setup and will feature multiple search providers, including Google. An illustrative version of the choice screen follows. Providers may vary by country. […]

Eligible search providers will need to fill out an application form and can bid for inclusion based on an auction. The auction process is explained in greater detail below.

Considering how much this farce has been covered already, I will not repeat what everybody knows. Instead I will just point out how Google announced the result of the auctions on the Android website: four sentences, two footnotes, a table listing the winners” per country, a title that reads do-not-give-a-shit, and that’s it.

Also, I don’t think I have ever heard of — check notes — PrivacyWall and info.com. What are they?’, you may ask: they are search engines apparently, and they are the only two search engine options offered to Android users in France that are not Google or Bing. And yes, in case you’re wondering, Bing is still around. Ecosia, DuckDuckGo, barely appear on the list.

If anything, this whole thing will reinforce Google’s monopoly on search. Users will see this choice screen’ and think: OK, so two shady things I don’t know, Bing (laughs), and yep, Google. Why would they even ask me to choose?”

It’s like asking kids who have only ever watched the movie Ratatouille if they want to watch Ratatouille again, or another movie from this list: Pixels (even the kids would know it sucks), The Hunchback of Notre Dame II: The Secret of the Bell (you’re lucky if the kids even know about the first one), and The Beastmaster.


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