Google's Search Preference Menus Could Drive Its Mobile Market Share Down

Google earlier this year shared the results of its European auction that would allow other search engines to be added to the setup screen for devices running Android through a bidding process. The change, forced by a $5 billion European Union antitrust fine, created a preference menu where users in each country has their own list of choices.

Now analysis from privacy search engine DuckDuckGo suggests this process will likely drop Google’s mobile search market share because people would have the option to change their search default setting.

DuckDuckGo’s analysis is based on the interaction of 3,000 people for the first test in each country — a total of 9,000 overall.

The results show when a properly designed search preference menu is pushed to all smartphone users, Google's mobile market share is likely to immediately drop by 20% in the U.S., 22% in the U.K., and 16% in Australia.



For example, in the U.S., Google’s mobile market share is 95.1%, dropping to 75.8% with the preference menu. In the U.K., that number would decline from 98% to 76.1%, and in Australia from 98.3 to 82.7%, according to the data.

The preference options range from Bing and DuckDuckGo, to Ecosi, Yandex and Dogpile, among many others.

DuckDuckGo also tested the concept user selection would change depending on the device screen by showing an additional 3,000 U.S. users a preference menu where Google was placed on the first screen.

The analysis showed no statistically significant difference in how often users selected Google. This result agrees with DuckDuckGo’s last round of user testing, reinforcing Google can be placed on the last screen of any search preference menu to raise brand awareness of non-Google options.

In a prior test, DuckDuckGo analysis discovered that 96% of Android phones in Europe can display five search engines on the first screen, and 51% can display six or more, while still showing descriptions for all. Just 4% can only display four options.

Results of this test -- in which survey participants were asked to imagine they were setting up a new phone for the first time by following the onscreen directions to pick a default search engine -- were based on live large-scale random samples of mobile devices. The data was sourced from Cint and conducted on UsabilityHub.

Respondents were paid, but did not know the testing was paid for by DuckDuckGo.

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