Microsoft CEO: AI Could Strengthen Google’s Dominance in Search Market
In the ongoing Google antitrust trial, Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella testified that artificial intelligence (AI) could actually help Google extend its dominance in the search market. Nadella’s unexpected statement comes as Microsoft introduced its Bing AI-based search earlier this year, aiming to challenge Google’s position. However, Nadella now suggests that Google could leverage its massive profits from search to pay publishers for exclusive content rights, creating an even more advanced search AI than its rivals.
Nadella emphasized Google’s firm grip on the search market, expressing that people start their day by searching on Google, almost like a habit. The Department of Justice has accused Google’s search division of illegally maintaining a monopoly by paying $10 billion annually to become the default search engine on mobile devices and web browsers. Google, however, denies these allegations.
The Department of Justice hopes to use testimony from Nadella and other Microsoft executives to demonstrate how even a company of Microsoft’s caliber and resources failed to break Google’s hold on the search market. Last week, Microsoft’s business development executive Jonathan Tinter testified that despite offering better terms than Google and being willing to incur significant losses, Microsoft failed to secure a deal to make Bing its default search app on Apple’s products. Eventually, Apple signed a fresh agreement with Google.
Nadella further stated that Apple appeared to be using Microsoft to drive up the price it receives from Google. This raises the question of why Google would continue paying Apple if there was no search competition. Tinter also revealed that Microsoft’s Surface Duo smartphone was forced to use Google search in order to obtain a license for the Android mobile operating system and was restricted from using Bing on its own devices. Nadella, who was personally involved in discussing these issues with Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, is expected to provide insight into those conversations during the trial.
Nadella played a pivotal role in the development of Bing, which Microsoft created in an unsuccessful attempt to challenge Google’s dominance and capture a share of the online advertising market. Despite Microsoft’s $100 billion investment in Bing, the search engine continues to struggle against Google. Bing has gained some share on desktop computers thanks to integration with Microsoft’s browsers, but on mobile devices, where most people use Google, Bing lags behind. Several years ago, Microsoft even explored selling Bing to Apple, which could have replaced Google as the default search option on Apple devices.
The Google antitrust trial seeks to shed light on Google’s alleged anti-competitive practices. Microsoft’s testimonies highlight the challenges faced by even a giant like Microsoft in trying to disrupt Google’s search dominance. As the trial continues, it remains to be seen how this battle between two tech titans will shape the future of the search market.