WASHINGTON — Google is paying $10 billion a year to Apple and other smartphone makers to keep its position as the world’s biggest online search engine, the Department of Justice has said.
On the first day of the biggest tech antitrust trial in 20 years, lawyers for the DOJ said that Google had used agreements with the likes of Apple, Samsung, and Mozilla Firefox to make Google search the default on their smartphones and web browsers.
These lawyers said Google viewed these as”powerful strategic weapons,” designed to make it impossible for competitors to break their stranglehold over search – The New York Times reported.
“This case is about the future of the internet and whether Google’s search engine will ever face meaningful competition,” Kenneth Dintzer, the Justice Department’s lawyer, told the court in comments reported by the AP.
Lawyers for Google denied that the company illegally used agreements to protect its market share, saying that the company’s products were simply superior to its rivals and that customers had plenty of opportunities to switch search engines if they wanted to.
The DOJ’s lawsuit, which was filed under the Trump administration in 2020, said that Google used anticompetitive methods to prevent others from challenging the dominance of Google Search.
The case poses a major threat to Google’s business, and will likely influence the way big tech companies are regulated for the next decade or more.
Plus, it is just the first of several legal challenges facing the tech giant. Another Justice Department lawsuit filed in January 2023 focused on Google’s ad tech business, saying that the company utilized its market dominance to squash competition.
The suit asks the court to break up Google by ordering the search giant to sell key parts of its Ad Manager suite.