A few weeks ago, during the ongoing US v. Google antitrust trial, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had said that one of the reasons why Bing is behind Google is because Apple has made Google its default search engine. He said that he regretted how Microsoft’s deal with Apple did not work out and how Apple was reluctant to sign a deal with Microsoft due to its agreement with Google and fear of retaliation from Google. While Google’s deal with Apple has been one of the major focuses of the test, one question always remained is how much Google is paying Apple to become the default search engine in Safari on Mac, iPad, and iPhone. Especially when Apple rejected Microsoft’s offer of about $15 billion annually.
During the trial several estimates suggested that Google was paying Apple $10 billion to $20 billion to make Google the default search engine on Safari. However, now a new report from the New York Times reveals that Google paid Apple “about $18 billion” in 2021.
Reports suggest that Google paid Apple to maintain its hold on the search market and expand its business. It was concerned about Apple’s developments around search technology, so it looked for ways to weaken Apple’s Spotlight search tool.
Google not only paid Apple for the default search, reports cite that Google also developed its own version of Spotlight for iPhones. This version of Spotlight was designed to be more user-friendly and provide better results to users. Google also tried to convince more iPhone users to use Chrome instead of Safari.
By doing these things, Google was hoping to maintain its dominance in the search engine market and prevent Apple from becoming a serious competitor.
However, Satya Nadella’s argument regarding Apple’s deal with Google is contradictory. Nadella thinks Apple kept the deal going because it feared Google’s dominance over apps like Gmail and YouTube. Nadella mentioned Google’s ability to use these popular services to promote Chrome, allowing users to abandon Safari.
Meanwhile, apart from Google’s deal with Apple, the company has also signed similar contracts with Samsung and Mozilla. These deals were highlighted in the ongoing Google antitrust trial, where the US Justice Department claimed that Google illegally strengthened its monopoly in online search by paying to become the default search engine on browsers and phones.
Google is accused by the US Department of Justice and 37 states for allegedly abusing its market dominance in the search engine industry. The lawsuit alleges that Google is paying billions of dollars to phone makers and web browsers to make Google the default search engine on most devices, pre-installing its services on Android devices, and using its market power to stifle competition.