While it remains mostly unchallenged in the US, Google has been facing tough opposition in Europe. It has fought and lost not a few legal battles with the European Commission, forcing it to change many of its practices and business strategies just for that region. Those changes aren’t done yet and the latest might be more of a nuisance rather than an inconvenience. Without going into much detail, Google says that Android users in Europe will be asked which browse and search app they’d like to use, even if the majority of them will probably answer “Google” anyway.
This, of course, is in response to the landmark 2018 decision that found Google guilty of anti-competitive business practices in the European Union. In particular, Google was charged with using its position as Android maker to push its Google Play Services, Chrome browser, and Search app to users to the detriment of its rivals.
Google already shifted its licensing strategy and pricing for Android phone makers in response to that. It has split up its Google Play apps, allowing OEMs to pick and choose which ones they want to include if any at all. That said, Google also raised the licensing fee to compensate for the new options.
Now it’s doing something similar for end users, though with probably less drastic consequences. It will ask both existing and new Android users for their preferred browser or search app but it doesn’t exactly detail how it will do so. For new users, that can most likely happen during the device setup process but prompting existing users in the middle of the day could prove to be disruptive and annoying.
It’s a rather minor change to minimally comply with the EC’s punishment, though Google could probably use data it will gather to show that most users will choose its products anyway. That could also prove that, by now, products like Chrome and Google Search have become so ingrained in consumers’ minds that few may even bother to see what exists outside Google’s world.