The ongoing Google antitrust trial has revealed that the internet giant is paying Apple a staggering 36 percent of the search advertising revenue generated by the Safari browser, spotlighting the lengths Google will go to maintain its search engine monopoly.
Bloomberg reports that Google has been found to pay Apple a massive 36 percent of the revenue earned from search advertising through the Safari browser. This disclosure, made by Kevin Murphy, a University of Chicago professor and the main economics expert for Google, came to light during his testimony in the DOJ’s antitrust trial against the internet giant.
Murphy’s unexpected admission caused visible discomfort for John Schmidtlein, Google’s main litigator, as the revenue-sharing figure was intended to be confidential. Both tech giants, Google and Apple, had previously objected to making the details of their agreement public. Last week, Google even argued in a court filing that revealing more about the deal could harm its competitive standing against rivals and other business partners.
This partnership, which dates back to 2002, is based on Google exlusively set as the default search engine in Apple’s Safari browser. Today, it stands as Google’s most critical default deal, particularly since it sets the search engine for the iPhone — the most widely used smartphone in the U.S.
Earlier witnessed exposed the pressure tactics used by Google to force Apple to comply with its default status:
In an instance revealed at the trial, Apple, seeking to present users with several options for the default search engine, was met with a stern response from Google, stating, “No default—no revenue share.” This hardball tactic led Apple to abandon the idea, a decision that has not been revisited since, according to DOJ lead trial attorney Kenneth Dintzer.
The revelations extend beyond Apple, touching upon Google’s interactions with Samsung. The trial highlighted how Google influenced Samsung’s design tweaks related to default search engines, ensuring users found it challenging to switch away from Google’s search engine. When Samsung’s design modifications made it easier for users to change default search engines, Google, alleging a violation of their agreement, compelled Samsung to roll back the changes.
The DOJ is scrutinizing this agreement as potential evidence of Google’s illegal maintenance of dominance over the search engine and search advertising markets. The trial’s focus on this deal underscores the increasing scrutiny big tech companies face regarding their business practices and market power.