Rivals DuckDuckGo, Ecosia, and Bing want top spot in Australia

Andreas Milano
  • Rival search engine operators are eyeing Google’s potential exit from Australia. 
  • Google threatened to quit Australia if the firm implements new regulation over payments to news providers.
  • Ecosia CEO Christian Kroll said of replacing Google in Australia: ‘Our servers could handle it.’ 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Google’s rivals say they would be ready to replace the tech giant in Australia if it follows through on threats to shut down its search engine in the country.

Google’s dispute with the Australian government over new regulation reached boiling point last month, when Google MD for Australia and New Zealand, Mel Silva, warned that proposals forcing it to pay for the news stories it displays could result in search being withdrawn from the country altogether.

“If this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google search available in Australia,” she told Australian senators.

The code, called the news media and digital platforms mandatory bargaining code, primarily forces Facebook and Google to enter into negotiations to pay news providers whose content is displayed in the news feed and search.

Now search engine rivals trying to take on Google – Microsoft’s Bing, environmentally-friendly Ecosia, and privacy-focused DuckDuckGo — have thrown their hats into the ring.

In a statement issued on Tuesday night, the president of Microsoft, Brad Smith, attacked Google for threatening to pull out of Australia.

“One thing is clear: while other tech companies may sometimes threaten to leave Australia, Microsoft will never make such a threat,” said Smith. “We are committed to supporting the country’s national security and economic success.”

Meanwhile, Ecosia CEO Christian Kroll told Insider that Australian officials “shouldn’t even bother entertaining Google’s unnecessarily stroppy response” to the proposals.

“As I’ve said before, if every Australian began using Ecosia, our servers could handle it,” he said. “We may need to buy a bit more Rackspace, but every operational issue could be easily addressed within a fortnight.”

Ecosia hasn’t built its own search engine, but has licensed the technology from Microsoft’s Bing.

Kroll added: “Ecosia has shown real commitment to Australia in recent years, unlike our competitor, which is threatening to pull out its services.”

DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg declined to comment directly, a company spokesperson told Insider: “There’s a growing global demand for privacy online and Australians don’t have to wait for government action to escape Google’s pervasive data collection.

“Every day, millions of people rely on DuckDuckGo’s free all-in-one privacy solution — private search engine, tracker blocker, and mobile browser — to stay private online and replace both Google Search and the Google Chrome app.”

Despite the fighting talk, Google’s search rivals are still minnows. Google is the dominant search engine in Australia and globally, with nearly 95% market share in the country, according to StatCounter. Bing is the second most popular search engine in the country with around 4%, while DuckDuckGo and Ecosia boast market share of less than 1%.

Insider approached Google for comment.

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