Apple Executives’ Testimony Sheds Light on Google’s Search Monopoly
In a recent antitrust trial involving the US Department of Justice and Google, Apple executives took the stand as key witnesses, shedding light on the deal between the two tech giants that allegedly led to Google monopolizing internet search. Although Apple is not a defendant in the case, the trial revolves around the agreement between Google and Apple, making their executives’ testimonies crucial for understanding the details of the deal.
According to court documents, it was revealed that Google was concerned about the potential loss of revenue to an Apple-made competitor. As a result, Google imposed certain limitations on Apple as part of their agreement, ensuring that Google remained the default search engine on iPhones. This partnership between Apple and Google is believed to result in an annual payment of up to $20 billion from Google to Apple.
One of Google’s worries, highlighted by internal emails presented in court, was that Apple was diverting users away from Google’s search engine. Specifically, the built-in Safari browser on iPhones suggested websites directly to users, potentially bypassing Google. In response, Google sought to prevent them from diverting queries and destroying value, as stated in an internal email from a Google executive.
The Department of Justice presented a slide deck during the trial that projected a potential revenue hit resulting from this feature. However, in 2016, Apple agreed to renew the deal with Google while keeping its search function substantially similar to how it already was, rather than expanding the feature.
Another internal email from 2018 confirmed that the updated deal allowed Apple to offer limited Siri suggestions exclusively to enhance the search results’ quality, not to drive traffic to Siri. Consequently, the Siri suggestions feature on iOS has seen limited updates, as an agreement with Google restricts its development.
Despite the partnership with Google, Apple executives revealed that the company did explore alternatives to Google as the default search engine. Talks were held with Microsoft and DuckDuckGo, and Apple even considered acquiring Bing from Microsoft. However, ultimately, Apple decided to stick with Google, claiming that there was not a better choice available at the time.
John Giannandrea, a former Google search executive who now leads Apple’s AI division, testified that Apple had never agreed to refrain from developing its own search engine to compete with Google. Apple has made significant investments in AI and search technologies, such as the acquisition of Laserlike, which could indicate potential groundwork for its search engine. However, it remains uncertain whether Apple will actually pursue the development of its own search engine.
In conclusion, the ongoing antitrust trial between the US Department of Justice and Google has revealed the extent of the deal between Google and Apple, which has raised concerns about Google’s monopoly in internet search. Apple executives testified about the restrictions imposed by Google to maintain its status as the default search engine on iPhones. The trial also exposed Apple’s consideration of alternatives to Google and the possibility of Apple developing its own search engine in the future.