Bulletins

Australia recommends 'choice screen' to break up Google Search dominance

The ACCC said this would only be a first step.

Google

If the ACCC takes any steps against Google, it will also undoubtedly kick off a protracted legal battle.

Image: Protocol

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recommended in a recent report that consumers be given a "choice screen" to select their default search engine. The ACCC said this would only be a first step and requested power to implement further measures in a bid to break up Google's search dominance.


The ACCC recommendation reflects a similar effort by EU regulators to rein in Google's search dominance. In 2018, EU antitrust regulators levied a $5 billion fine after finding that Google used Android to "cement the dominance of its search engine." Google added a choice screen for Android users in Europe in response to the decision.

The ACCC found that Google Search held 94% market share in Australia. They attributed this in part to Google's status as the preset default search engine for Google Chrome and Apple's Safari. The commission also alleged that Google "is able to effectively leverage its market power in mobile operating systems and mobile app distribution to foreclose important entry points for rival search engines."

Even if Australia succeeds in forcing Google to mandate a choice screen, it likely wouldn't have much impact. The choice screen in the EU has done little to disrupt the dominance of Google Search.

If the ACCC takes any steps against Google, it will also undoubtedly kick off a protracted legal battle. Google is still actively appealing the EU ruling on its alleged anti-competitive contracts with Android device makers. A Google lawyer told an EU panel in September that regulators "mistakenly found Google to be dominant" and the commission actually ignored "the real competitive dynamic in this industry — that between Apple Inc. and Android."

Advertising is still Google's golden goose: Alphabet generated $37.9 billion from "Google Search & other" revenue in Q3 2021, which represented 58% of total revenue for the quarter.

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