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Google Sparks Another EU Antitrust Row Over Skipping Key Search Rivals From Android Choice List

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Google Sparks Another EU Antitrust Row Over Skipping Key Search Rivals From Android Choice List

Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) is facing fresh criticism over the way it allows its search engine competitors to gain visibility on the Android smartphone operating system in Europe.

What Happened: On Monday, the company released a list of auction winners that will be ordered randomly in a “choice screen” on Android phones in Europe.

Some smaller search engines popular on the continent along with the privacy-oriented DuckDuckGo didn't win spots in major European countries.

Major search players such as Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Bing won 13 spots out of 31 in countries such as France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

DuckDuckGo on the other hand could only secure spots in Bulgaria, Croatia, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

The Paoli, Pennsylvania-based search engine criticized Alphabet’s “pay-to-play auction” in a blog post and alleged that the preference menu on Android is “not properly designed.”

DuckDuckGo alleged that despite it being “robustly profitable” since 2014, they had been priced out of the auction because they chose “to not maximize our profits by exploiting our users.”

Google on the other hand claims that the auction is “a fair and objective method to determine which search providers are included,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Why It Matters: Google’s search engine is automatically a choice on the Android smartphone choice screen menu in all countries, and it doesn't participate in the auction.

The auction system, in place since March, was meant as a compliance measure after the European Union antitrust decision in 2018, which determined that Google used Android’s dominance to force makers of smartphones to pre-install its own search engine, the Journal noted.

This week, a report commissioned by 25 shopping sites, found that the search engine giant continues to direct the bulk of traffic to its own Google Shopping service even after it was fined $2.7 billion for favoring the service three years ago.

Price Action: Alphabet Class A shares closed nearly 1.4% higher at $1,458.66 on Monday. On the same day, the company’s Class C shares closed 1.35% higher at $1,464.52.

 

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