Thursday, March 14, 2024

DMA Compliance: Google


Changes to Search results: We have now implemented more than 20 product changes, including the introduction of dedicated units and chips to help users find comparison sites in areas like flights, hotels and shopping. We have removed some features from the search results page which help consumers find businesses, such as the Google Flights unit.

Choice screens: When you use an Android phone, you can easily switch your search engine or browser. Under the DMA, we will show additional choice screens, which are built on user research and testing, as well as feedback from the industry.


The DMA requires gatekeeper operating systems to allow users to use third-party apps and app stores. Through Android, we already do this.


User-choice billing (known as UCB) has allowed app developers to offer their own billing system alongside Google Play’s billing. This is the fairest way to offer alternative billing, as it puts the user fully in control of their preferred transaction method, and we’re expanding the program to game developers this week.


While Google Play already allows developers to communicate freely with customers outside their app about offers or lower-cost options available on a rival app store or the developer’s website, we are adding additional options in compliance with the DMA.

John Gruber (Mastodon):

The DMA has crippled Google Search in the EU […] I presume people in the EU can still go to the dedicated Google Flights page, but just typing “PHL to SFO” on Google’s homepage or in your browser’s location field is what most people expect to work.

Robert Watkins:

Correction: Google has crippled search in the EU in response to the DMA, because they don’t want to find a way to comply with the DMA that doesn’t cripple it.

• • •

Steve Dent:

Now, Google has revealed that it will indeed charge developers even if they don’t use the Play Store, just like Apple did with the App Store. Per new details found in the Play Console help section, the company will charge two new fees:

  1. An initial acquisition fee of 10% for in-app purchases or 5% for subscriptions for two years. This represents the value Play provided in facilitating initial user acquisition.

  2. An ongoing services fee of 17% for in-app purchases or 7% for subscriptions. This covers ongoing Play services like parental controls, security, fraud prevention, and app updates.

Developers can opt out of ongoing fees after two years if users agree, but ongoing Play services will no longer apply. “Since users acquired the app through Play with the expectation of services such as parental controls, security scanning, fraud prevention, and continuous app updates, discontinuation of services requires user consent as well,” Google stated.

Michael Love:

Google’s version of DMA compliance demonstrates how much easier life is for them because they don’t restrict sideloading and third-party stores. They can treat their DMA fees as a referral commission for Google Play finding you new customers - something that’s reasonable / familiar, both in software and in many other industries - rather than as the price of shipping on Android at all.

I’m not 100% on board with this, to be clear - my company name appears in pretty much all of my top search terms on Google Play, and I suspect a very large portion of my Google Play customers were not, in fact, referred to me by Google - but it’s nevertheless far far less obnoxious than Apple’s approach.

Tim Sweeney:

Google announced its malicious compliance plans for the European DMA law: The scare screens continue, and it looks like their illegal anti-steering policy will be replaced by a new Google Tax on web transactions.

The biggest travesty is Google’s deceptively-named “user choice billing” and “developer choice billing”, designed to ensure no developer would possibly want to use them. Here, Google imposes a 27% junk fee on transactions they aren’t involved in processing.

No gatekeeper should be allowed to impose fees for services not provided. It’s a transparent exercise in self-preferencing and monopoly rent extraction.

Neither Apple nor Google has a monopoly, as normally defined, but there’s not enough competition to make them do right by customers and developers.

Tim Sweeney:

Here is the most disgusting pro-monopoly thesis yet, put forth by Apple and Google funded Chamber of Progress: government should support Big Tech monopoly maintenance, because Apple and Google can more strongly reinforce US control over information than a competitive market.

Simply put: if Apple and Google maintain absolute control over apps and channels of information dissemination, then they can act as agents of the state to control it. Whereas, if users have freedom and control over their own devices, then government censorship is harder.

• • •


Google will make the following changes to comply with its DMA obligations requiring it to show choice screens: (i) introduce a new browser choice screen during initial device setup in addition to a search choice screen on Android smartphones and tablets; and (ii) show a search choice screen on Chrome on non-Android platforms.

John Gruber:

Not clear to me why Apple did this in a software update for all eligible iPhones, but Google is only doing it for newly-sold ones.


Update (2024-03-20): The Local France:

Now, when searching a specific address on your laptop, you will continue to see a small map in the centre of the screen, but will be unable to click on the map and be taken straight to Google Maps. The ‘Maps’ button that once appeared below the search bar, along with ‘Images’ or ‘News’ no longer appears either.

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