Next year, we’ll introduce a new way for Android users to select a search provider to power a search box on their home screen and as the default in Chrome (if installed). Search providers can apply to be part of the new choice screen, which will appear when someone is setting up a new Android smartphone or tablet in Europe.
So far so good, but then Google goes on to detail how a search provider can add itself to the list. Other than Google itself, only three other possible choices will be listed in each individual EU member state. Google will conduct a closed auction in each member state, wherein search provider can bid by stating how much they are willing to pay per user who selects them. Search providers will have to pay a fee for each user that selects them.
Google will send a monthly invoice to search providers and charge only when the provider is selected by the user. Your monthly invoice will indicate how many selections came via the choice screen per country and the total amount owed to Google.
In other words, the bigger and richer the search provider, the more likely it will be featured. This rules out smaller companies and open source search engines, who simply won’t be able to compete with the bigger players. In addition, all the auction details – how many providers partake, their bids, and so on – will all remain secret.
I wonder if this will satisfy the European Commission, and I’m certainly no lawyer in any way, shape, or form, but merely going by gut, having search providers pay Google secret amounts of money in secret auctions somehow does not seem what the EC is after.