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Google Faces Court to Justify Massive Annual Payments to Apple for iPhone Search

The prosecution rested its case against Google earlier this week after calling witnesses, eliciting testimony, and presenting evidence in an attempt to prove that the Alphabet subsidiary violated antitrust laws. Next up, it will be Google’s opportunity to show the court that it has not committed any acts that would label it a monopolist. Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai is expected to testify, along with other top executives, in front of Judge Amit Mehta.

Per Bloomberg, one of the most important aspects of the case involves the huge annual payments that Google makes to phone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung to secure Google’s role as the default search engine on the iPhone and Galaxy devices. The Justice Department claims that by making these payments, Samsung is preventing the public from reaping the benefits of possible innovation in search engine technology.

The DOJ claims that Google’s payments to Apple and Samsung prevent device users from choosing other search engines

According to the DOJ, Google is spending $10 billion per year to lock in its position as the default search provider. The company will have to explain why it feels compelled to make these payments every year while also trying to shoot down the prosecution’s claims that Google’s prominent placement on Apple and Samsung devices prevents the owners of these devices from looking for alternate search engines.

Besides accusing Google of paying phone manufacturers to prevent search engine innovations from reaching the public, the DOJ says that Google’s actions have led internet advertising prices to rise through its control over the online auctions used to set these costs. The government claims that Google does this by manipulating how ad buyers and online publishers meet on the advertising platforms.

The DOJ has used testimony over Apple’s deal with Google to show how Google’s annual payments to Apple and Samsung lessen competition in search. This testimony revealed that Apple was at first not open to having a default search engine on iPhone and was considering the development of its own search engine but only if it couldn’t work out a revenue-sharing deal with Google. The prosecution used this testimony to show that Google’s deal with Apple prevented one of its biggest software rivals in the mobile space from competing against it in search.
Judge Mehta has said that the “heart” of the DOJ’s case comes down to whether the Google-Apple deal over search gave Google the power to violate antitrust laws. An expert Economist who testified as a prosecution witness said on the stand that “when you see Google paying billions and billions and billions, there has to be a reason. That’s the first thing that, as an economist, slaps me in the face.”

Changing the default search engine on iOS is quick and easy to do

Jennifer Rie, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst tracking the trial, said that the prosecution did a “solid job.” She went on to add, “One of the toughest hurdles for Google, once it starts its case-in-chief, is reconciling why it pays so much.”

Changing the search engine on one’s phone is not a complex process, which is an argument Google has made and might make again over the next five weeks as it puts on its defense. Google has blamed Microsoft’s inability to get a larger share of the mobile search market with Bing as “a direct result of Microsoft’s missteps in Internet search.”

To change the default search engine on iOS, go to Settings > Safari > Search Engine. That gives users five search engine options to choose from including Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and Ecosia. Google is the search option that is selected out of the box, but it shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes to make the change on an iPhone. And that is the point that Google is making which is that the public is more familiar with Google’s search engine and trusts it more than rivals or else users would be taking two minutes out of their day to switch.

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