Google Antitrust Trial: Does The Tech Company Have A Hypnotic Hold On Users?
Testifying in the biggest US antitrust case since the Justice Department went after Microsoft’s dominance of internet browsers 25 years ago, Sundar Pichai defended his company’s practice of paying other tech firms to make Google the default search engine on their devices.
The Indian-born Chief Executive Officer of Google and its parent company Alphabet said the intent was to make the user experience “seamless and easy”. Google stresses that it dominates the market because its search engine is better than the competition’s.
Google Worried About Apple Establishing Its Own Search Engine?
Pichai joined Google in 2004 from McKinsey & Co. Before becoming the chief executive, he helped develop the world’s most popular web browser, or Google Chrome. He grabbed the top spot in 2015, helping Alphabet’s net income balloon under his leadership.
The Department of Justice contends that Google pays off Apple and other tech companies to knock out rival search engines to stifle competition. According to court documents the government entered into the record, the payments came to more than $26 billion in 2021.
The Department sought to show Google feared Apple might establish its own search engine. Even in a 2019 email shown in court, Sundar Pichai asked to be informed directly when an employee from the company’s prominent search engine team defected to Apple.
The antitrust case was filed in 2020. The trial began Sept 12 in US District Court in Washington DC and could run for 10 weeks. A significant amount of evidence has been redacted from the documents as attorneys of Google and Apple say they need to protect trade secrets.
Payments Meant To Nudge Companies To Make Security Upgrades
Pichai testified Monday that Google’s payments in question were partly meant to nudge the companies into making costly security upgrades and other improvements to their devices, not just to ensure Google was the first search engine users stumbled upon.
Google rakes in substantial profits from the deals because it makes money when users click on advertisements they encounter while surfing the internet and shares the revenue with Apple and other tech companies that make Google the default search engine on their devices.