Sundar Pichai Defends Google In Antitrust Case: Key Takeaways


In the ongoing U.S. government antitrust trial against Google, CEO Sundar Pichai recently testified in defense of the company’s business tactics, particularly its deal with Apple and other partners that made Google the default search engine. This trial, which follows a 2020 antitrust claim against Google’s dominance in the online search market, aims to restore competition in digital advertising and halt Google’s alleged anticompetitive practices.

Key Takeaway

The Google antitrust trial has revealed significant insights, including the $26.3 billion Google spent in 2021 to become the default search engine across various platforms.

Google’s Massive Investment: $26.3 Billion to Be the Default Search Engine

During the trial, Google’s search head, Prabhakar Raghavan, disclosed that the tech giant spent a staggering $26.3 billion in 2021 to secure agreements with multiple browsers, phones, and platforms. Apple alone received around $18 billion as part of this deal, which has been in place since 2003. Google argues that these investments are necessary to provide consumers with the best search engine experience across different devices.

The Value of Default Settings for Google’s Dominance

Google’s early recognition of the value of default settings became apparent in court. An email from a 2007 Google product strategy meeting revealed that when individuals changed their browser homepage to Google, their Google searches increased by 15%. Conversely, switching away from Google led to a 27% drop in Google searches. Microsoft and DuckDuckGo CEOs testified that their search engines would have been more competitive with Google if they had reached similar agreements with Apple.

Google’s Agreement with Apple: Chrome Promotion Restriction

As part of the search deal between Google and Apple, Google agreed not to promote its Chrome browser to Safari users. This restriction prevented Google from using banners, pop-ups, or other means within its other apps to promote Chrome. Apple’s decision to maintain its own default search engine and not preload third-party software onto its devices has limited Google’s reach on iPhones.

Google’s Failed Attempt to Preinstall on iPhones

In 2018, Pichai admitted to attempting to persuade Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, to preinstall Google on every iOS device. This strategy aimed to deepen the integration between Google and Apple’s services, benefiting both companies. Cook, however, declined the proposal due to Apple’s policy of not preloading third-party software on its devices, thereby maintaining its control over the user experience.

Google’s Deleted Chat Logs and DOJ’s Accusations

The trial also shed light on Google’s policy of deleting internal chat messages, which came under scrutiny by the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ accused Google of systematically deleting chats using the history-off option, which clears messages every 24 hours unless manually changed. Pichai stated that he took action in February to comply with the DOJ’s litigation hold, highlighting his commitment to comply with legal requirements.

The outcome of the Google antitrust case could have far-reaching consequences. If the judge rules against Google, the repercussions may resemble the Microsoft antitrust case, which required behavioral changes and sharing APIs with third-party developers. Google might have to share its extensive data with other search engines, potentially leveling the playing field. This case may also impact other ongoing antitrust investigations against major tech companies, such as Amazon, Apple, and Facebook.

Overall, the trial aims to demonstrate the relevance of antitrust laws in the digital age and prove that even the most powerful companies can be held accountable for anticompetitive practices.

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