In a significant revelation during the Justice Department’s landmark antitrust trial against Google, it was disclosed that Google pays Apple a staggering 36% of its search advertising revenue generated through the Safari browser. This bombshell disclosure came to light when Ken Murphy, an economist from the University of Chicago, accidentally revealed the sensitive information while testifying on behalf of Google’s defense team.
The revelation caused a stir in the courtroom, with Google’s top trial lawyer, John Schmidtlein, reportedly “visibly cringed” when Murphy divulged the figure. Google and Apple had vehemently fought to keep the details of their revenue-sharing agreement hidden from the public eye.
Murphy’s slip-up highlighted the close ties between Google and Apple, which have been partners since 2002. This partnership has been instrumental in maintaining Google’s dominance in the online search market, as Safari is the default search engine on Apple’s popular iPhone and iPad devices.
The Justice Department has accused Google of engaging in anticompetitive practices to maintain its monopoly in the online search market. One of the key pieces of evidence presented by the DOJ is Google’s substantial payments to Apple to ensure that its search engine remains the default on Safari.
In 2021 alone, Google paid a whopping $26.3 billion to various device makers, including Apple, to secure default search engine status. This massive sum underscores the lengths Google has gone to maintain its position as the world’s leading search engine.
While Google has defended its payments to Apple and other device makers as fair compensation, the Justice Department argues that these deals have stifled competition and harmed consumers. The ongoing antitrust trial will determine whether Google’s actions constitute an illegal monopoly.
The revelation of Google’s payments to Apple has reignited concerns about the company’s dominance in the tech industry. Critics argue that Google’s vast resources and entrenched position give it an unfair advantage over its competitors, limiting consumer choice and innovation.
The outcome of the Justice Department’s antitrust case could have significant ramifications for Google and the broader tech industry. If found guilty, Google could face substantial fines, forced divestitures, or even structural changes to its business model.
The trial is expected to continue in the coming weeks, with the Justice Department presenting its rebuttal witnesses. A final ruling on whether Google violated antitrust laws is not expected until early next year.