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Google paid Apple billions in search engine deal, US lawsuit says

By Argie Aguja Published Oct 23, 2020 4:11 am

Google paid up to $12 billion to Apple to make it the default search engine on iPhones and other Apple devices, according to a suit filed by the US Department of Justice.

This week, the US Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google for allegedly monopolizing the online search engine and advertising space. On Page 36 of the suit, the US government claimed that Google paid somewhere from $8 billion to $12 billion to gain the default search engine status on iOS devices.

Justice Department investigators stated that Apple, which does not have its own search engine, entered into a multi-year, multi-billion dollar deal with the internet giant to make Google the default search engine on all iPhones and other Apple products.

By doing so, Google became the default choice in web browser Safari, voice assistant Siri and device query feature Spotlight.

The charge also claimed that Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google chief executive Sundar Pichai met in 2018 to hammer out the deal. After this meeting, an anonymous senior Apple employee wrote to a Google counterpart that "our vision is that we work as if we are one company," the DOJ said in its suit.

The lawsuit also cited a Google document calling the Apple search deal a “significant revenue channel” and losing it would result in a "Code Red" scenario.

In a blog post, Google senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker slammed the allegations, saying that it's successful because its search engine is just better than the rest. And it is not stiff-arming rivals because people can switch their default browsers if they wanted to.

"Our agreements with Apple and other device makers and carriers are no different from the agreements that many other companies have traditionally used to distribute software. Other search engines, including Microsoft's Bing, compete with us for these agreements. And our agreements have passed repeated antitrust reviews," Walker wrote.