Google CEO defends deals making Google the default search engine

Innovation

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai defended his company’s practice of paying other companies to make Google the default search engine on their devices on Monday, amid a landmark antitrust trial involving the company’s alleged dominance over the search engine market.
Sundar Pichai

Gooegle CEO Sundar Pichai—testifying during Google’s antitrust trial—said deals with Apple and others were meant to make the user experience “seamless and easy.”

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Key Facts

Pichai testified on Monday that a deal to make Google the default search engine on Apple devices was meant to make it “very, very seamless and easy for users to use our services,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Apple was considering other search engines before entering negotiations with Google in 2016, according to Pichai, who said Google had to “fiercely compete on so many products.”

Google paid just over $26.3 billion to other tech companies—including Apple and Samsung—in 2021 to make Google the default search engine on their devices, according to evidence released last week by the Justice Department.

Other evidence presented to the court includes an email that Pichai sent in 2007, in which Pichai suggests allowing Apple to make it easier for users to switch between Google’s and Yahoo’s search engines on the Safari browser, later indicating he was concerned about the “optics” of being the only search engine on the browser.

Crucial Quote

“We know that making it the default will lead to increased usage of our products and services, particularly Google search in this case,” Pichai testified on Monday about Google’s deal with Apple. “So there is clear value in that and that’s what we were looking for.”

Chief Critic

“The entire notion that users have choice, and they go from one website to another website … is completely bogus,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella testified earlier this month, adding he believed the internet had turned into the “Google web.”

What To Watch For

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta will likely rule on Google’s antitrust case early next year following additional testimony, according to the Associated Press. If Mehta decides Google broke the law, another trial will be held to determine consequences for the company, including preventing Google from making future deals to become the default search engine.

Key Background

The Justice Department and 11 attorneys general filed a lawsuit against Google in 2020 for alleged antitrust violations, following a 16-month investigation by the agency into Google. The lawsuit claimed Google hurts competitors through “exclusionary agreements” that make Google’s search engine the default platform on most U.S. devices. The lawsuit also claims Google has “monopoly power” with more than 70% market share in the search advertising market, with “barriers to entry” that prevent rival companies from competing. Google has previously argued that its search engine dominates the market because its product is superior to competitors, according to the Associated Press. “Google” is the most searched-for word on Microsoft’s search engine Bing, according to John Schmidtlein, Google’s lead attorney. Google is also facing a lawsuit that claims Google violated antitrust law by dominating the digital advertising space.

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