Google has announced the winners of this quarter's auction for default search engine options on Android devices in the Europe. In most of the EEA plus the U.K., users setting up their new phone or tablet starting October 1 will likely have to choose between using Google, Bing, GMX, Info.com, or Yandex.
On desktops, Chrome can be a powerful and individual tool, despite being a resource hog. Depending on your needs, you can customize your browsing experience with extensions, and there is one for almost any use case. Now, Kiwi Browser has added the same feature to its Chromium-based app, making it possible to use Chrome extensions on Android.
Google has been facing a lot of backlash from the EU (and other countries) regarding its dominance over several markets, including online search. "Backlash" is a tame word to describe it too, there have been lawsuits, huge fines in numbers we can't fully comprehend, and lots of politics at stake. But whether this latest change in Chrome's search engines is related to that or not, we'll let you decide.
Anyone who's been following technology news for long enough will remember Microsoft's infamous browser ballot screen in Europe, which was a result of antitrust action against the company for pushing Internet Explorer. Google is facing a lot of regulatory pressures in Russia right now, so it's doing something similar. When opening Chrome for Android in Russia, users are being asked to choose a default search engine.
Russia began investigating Google for antitrust violations last year after the largest search engine in the country, Yandex, complained to authorities. It alleged that Google's promotion of its own services over alternatives (like Yandex) on Android was anti-competitive. Now, the Russian Federation Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has issued a $6.8 million fine against Google. Surely, this will bankrupt the company.
Acting on a complaint by Russian search giant Yandex, Russia's antitrust authority has ruled that Google's policy forbidding the pre-installation of competing search providers on GMS-enabled devices is illegal in the country. Yandex, who dominates the huge Russian market on the desktop, has been hemorrhaging market share in mobile to Google. Their complaint is that Google cannot have a rule requiring Google be the default (and only) search engine on devices that ship with the Play Store.
Now, Google never prevents people from downloading a different search provider from the Play Store. From the perspective of Yandex, though, Google dominates the mobile market so much that this policy is an abuse of their power.
Yandex is often called "the Google of Russia," for pretty obvious reasons: it owns and operates the largest search engine (by market share) in the country, and it has expanded into familiar markets like webmail, online video, mapping services, and even an app store. Still, Yandex has found that Google's hold on Android is basically unshakeable at this point, so the company has resolved to take advantage of Android's open source nature and provide superior alternatives to its customers. Ha, just kidding. They're sicking the Russian regulators on Google instead.
TechCrunch reports that Yandex has asked the Russian antitrust authority to investigate Google, specifically for setting its own search engine as the default on Android devices.
You probably recognize the name Yandex by now. It's the Russian outfit that's been deploying alternatives to Google services in recent years, and has actually been doing a reasonably good job at it. After recently making the home screen replacement Yandex.Shell available to everyone, the company has set its sights on mobile browsers with Yandex.Browser.
This browser has all the basic features you'd expect in any modern app, but it does a few interesting things. There is a customizable visual shortcut manager called Tablo that lists your most visited sites. Also on-board in the first release is data compression to reduce bandwidth consumption.
Yandex isn't a household name in most areas, but if you live in Russia, chances are pretty good that you've at least heard of the Google and Amazon competitor. A few months ago we brought you news of an updated version of Yandex's customized launcher and dialer combination, Yandex.Shell, at the time only available in Russia. Today it's free to download for everyone with a spiffy new English localization. New features for the update include the standard bugfixes and an experimental hardware acceleration mode.
If Yandex.Shell looks familiar, it should: it's made by some of the same talented developers who've been wowing mobile users for years with SPB Shell 3D and related products.