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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

Google pays $18 billion a year to be Apple’s default search engine according to new report

If you’ve ever wondered how much it costs Google to be the default search engine on Safari we finally have the answer. It was one of the questions brought up during the ongoing antitrust case against Google, The tech giant has been accused by the US Department of Justice of striking anticompetitive deals with Apple and other companies for prime placement of its search engine.

According to a report published by the New York Times last week, Google paid Apple “around $18 billion” in 2021. It was well expected that the figure would be in the billions of dollars but, it's still shocking.

However, it starts to make sense when you hear what Google is paying for. The money doesn't just give Google top placement on Apple devices, it has also been key in ensuring Apple doesn’t build its own search engine.

While testifying in the ongoing trial, Giannandrea, a former Google executive who now runs machine learning and AI at Apple revealed that Apple has considered buying Bing or making its own search engine but worried about competing with Google and losing the deal.

Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella who also testified in the trial seemed to suggest that another reason for Apple to keep the Google deal was the fear that Google could get vindictive and use its market popularity to drive traffic from Safari browser altogether.

This would then tank any other deal that Safari makes with any other search engine.

Turns out Nadella was onto something. The Times report points to an incident in which Google felt threatened by threatened by improvements to Apple’s built-in Spotlight feature and reacted by adding a similar feature to Chrome which “presented users with quick facts and information from files, messages and apps on the device.

Google also began exploring how to use new EU competition laws to get more people to switch to Chrome from Safari.

The terms and impact of Apple's deal with Google have been a major talking point in the ongoing trial with multiple witnesses siding with the Department of Justice. These witnesses including Microsoft’s Nadella are convinced that any search engine with access to Apple’s massive market share would immediately become a power player.

Google’s portion of the trial begins Thursday this week. The company maintains that it succeeds because it's the best search, and not because it blocks rivals and has pointed to the fact that users can switch search engines at any time.


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