Google’s Search Engine Deals with Samsung, Apple: A Monopoly in the Making?

In 2021, Google had to spend a whopping $26.3 billion to maintain its position as the default search engine on phones and other browsers, according to the evidence provided by the company’s antitrust trial. The Justice Department contended that Google ensures the market isn’t competitive with other search engines by paying a hefty sum of money to maintain its default status. In transactions that have been mainly murky for more than 10 years, Google is paying Apple and Samsung Electronics billions of dollars for setting its own search engine as the default one on their smartphones.

All of this started when the US Department of Justice filed a civil antitrust trial pertaining to Google’s intellectual property supply agreements with the two largest smartphone manufacturers globally. At a Monday testimony in front of a federal court in Washington, D.C.,  Google CEO Sundar Pichai defended what the company refers to as search distribution agreements, which help the partners’ easy access to its search engine. Analyzing the earlier reports, Google paid Apple around $18 billion in 2021 to maintain Chrome as the default browser on Macs, iPads, and iPhones.

The corporation has now paid Apple to make its search engine the default one. According to the study that was sent to the register, between 14% and 16% of Apple’s yearly operating earnings can be attributed to Google’s payout.

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On the questions about the specifics of the Google contract, Samsung Electronics, however, chose not to respond. Samsung is planning to replace Google as the default search engine in its mobile web browser with Bing, status back in April by the New York Times. This move brought the contract to the attention of the general public. Google’s ongoing Magi project intends to enhance its search engine service with better personalization capabilities in the midst of the rapidly developing global AI race. The corporation plans to offer this functionality to around 30 million customers, but the actual time frame when it will be available is not mentioned.

Coming to Samsung it has always selected Google as default since 2009 and Google’s operating system since 2010 after launching the Galaxy smartphones. 

“As we’ve said from the beginning, this lawsuit is deeply flawed, and we’re pleased that the court has significantly narrowed it, dismissing claims regarding the design of Google Search,” said Kent Walker, president of global affairs at Google and its parent company Alphabet, in a statement.

“We plan to demonstrate at trial that our search distribution agreements reflect choices by browsers and device makers based on the quality of our services and the preferences of consumers,” the statement read.

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“As alleged in the complaint, over the past 15 years, Google has engaged in a course of anticompetitive and exclusionary conduct that consisted of neutralizing or eliminating ad tech competitors through acquisitions; wielding its dominance across digital advertising markets to force more publishers and advertisers to use its products; and thwarting the ability to use competing products,” the department said in a statement released in January.

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