Dear Google: We Agree Search Competition Should Be "Only 1 Click Away" – So Why Is It 15+ on Android?

Dear Google, one of the most repeated lines you’ve used to fend off antitrust inquiries is to say search competition is “only one click away.” The recent House Antitrust Subcommittee report notes that “in an internal presentation about [Microsoft] Internet Explorer’s default search selection, Google recommended that users be given an initial opportunity to select a search engine and that browsers minimize the steps required to change the default search provider.” Finally, something we can agree on! So, Google, given that you’ve often said competition is one click away, and you’re aware a complicated process suppresses competition, why does it take fifteen+ clicks to make DuckDuckGo Search or any other alternative the default on Android devices? Google search is made the default on Android devices in two ways, through the home screen search bar and default browser. Here is how someone can change both:
  1. Open Google Play
  2. Search “DuckDuckGo” (technically at least three clicks)
  3. Tap DuckDuckGo Privacy Browser
  4. Tap Install
  5. Navigate to the DuckDuckGo icon
  6. Long-press the DuckDuckGo icon
  7. Tap the widgets icon
  8. Long-press the widget and place on home screen
  9. Long-press the Google widget
  10. Tap Remove (process may differ and doesn't work on all devices, e.g., Google Pixel phones – go figure!)
Now you need to either make DuckDuckGo your default browser or make DuckDuckGo your default search engine in your preferred browser. Similar number of steps in either case, but we'll do the former since it is much better for privacy.
  1. Open Settings
  2. Search “browser” (technically at least two clicks)
  3. Tap Default browser app
  4. Tap DuckDuckGo
  5. Tap Home
This long process puts unnecessary roadblocks in the way of people getting to use the service they want. Right now there is no global device search setting on Android, which is why this is so many steps. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Switching default search engines can and should be one click via a properly designed search preference menu that users see automatically on device setup and can be sent back to in Settings (also in one click).
Given your stance on one-click competition, Google, will you commit to allowing consumers to select their preferred search engine in one click?

Screenshots of a proposed design for an improved search preference menu.

Consumers are fed up with dark patterns and other technology abuses. Study after study shows the vast majority of people want more privacy online, and at least 20% of people would pick a search engine other than Google if presented with the above search preference menu. Google, please stop using your dominance in a non-search market (e.g., via Android and Chrome) to further your dominance in the search market, and let consumers pick their default search engine in actually only one click. For more privacy advice follow us on Twitter, and stay protected and informed with our privacy newsletters.

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