The tree-planting search engine Ecosia refuses to take part in an upcoming closed auction hosted by Google for Android in Europe.
The Berlin-based company called the auction an "insult to the European Commission," which last year fined the internet giant a record $5 billion for abusing its dominant position and bundling its services on Android. As a response, Google announced an auction in early August that will allow companies to bid and become an alternative search engine for Android users in Europe.
Ecosia Rejects Google's Invitation To A Close Auction
Ecosia, in a statement, explained that one of the reasons why the company will not be participating into the closed auction because the process "unfairly favors" for-profit search engine. Unlike its competitors, Ecosia donates 80 percent of its surplus income to non-profit organizations that seek to protect the environment. Purpose-driven search engines such as Ecosia are unlikely to succeed in what would become an expensive auction.
Ecosia also explained that the move by Google further limits the users' options, creating an "artificial scarcity" that will end up raising the costs for alternative search engines and prevent new players from growing their userbase.
"We're deeply disappointed that Google has decided to exploit its dominant market position in this way," said Christian Kroll, CEO of Ecosia. "Instead of giving wide and fair access, Google have chosen to give discrimination a different form and make everyone else but themselves pay, which isn't something we can accept."
Gabriel Weinberg, CEO of DuckDuckGo, echoed the sentiments, saying that the "ballot box" screen on Android will not drive consumer choice, considering that Google will only allow three other options aside from itself. He is calling on antitrust regulators to work on Google and competing search engines to work on a solution that will benefit the users.
Qwant also publicly denounced the auction, arguing that Google should not be allowed to charge its competitors after abusing its dominant position on Android. The company also does not see how the auction will benefit Android users in Europe.
Both DuckDuckGo and Qwant offer to protect user privacy for every search.
Google To Offer Default Search Engine Options For New Android Users
Beginning next year, consumers in Europe who will buy new Android devices will be able to select their default search engine. There will be a choice screen wherein users can select which of the four search providers to use.
The options will reportedly vary from country to country.