Title: Apple Explores Alternative Search Engine Options in Antitrust Battle with Google
In a recent courtroom revelation, Apple confirmed that it had engaged in discussions with Microsoft and DuckDuckGo to potentially replace Google as its default search engine across Apple devices. The lingering question of whether Apple would break its lucrative revenue-sharing agreement with Google has been at the center of an ongoing antitrust case filed by the Department of Justice.
According to unsealed court testimonies, Apple held talks with Microsoft that also involved the potential acquisition or joint venture of Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. These discussions served as a bargaining chip to negotiate better terms with Google. The Department of Justice’s antitrust case accuses Google of abusing its dominance in the search market.
Apple currently benefits from a revenue-sharing agreement with Google, which sees the tech giant pay billions of dollars annually to remain the default search engine on Apple devices. Apple staunchly defended the deal, arguing that there were no viable alternatives available, but new testimonies suggest otherwise.
The unsealed testimony revealed that Apple conducted an evaluation of Bing’s search results compared to Google’s. In general, Bing’s performance fell short, except for desktop searches in English. Surprisingly, it was also revealed that Apple used Bing as a tactic to extract more money from Google during negotiations. Internal Apple emails confirmed that Microsoft was aware of being used for leverage and acknowledged Apple profiting more from Bing’s existence than Bing itself.
Apart from Microsoft, Apple also held discussions with DuckDuckGo, positioning itself as a privacy-focused alternative search engine. These talks centered around potentially making DuckDuckGo the default search engine for Safari’s private browsing mode. However, Apple’s senior vice president reportedly questioned DuckDuckGo’s privacy claims and remained unaware of these discussions.
Ultimately, after evaluating its options, Apple decided to stick with Google, striking a deal estimated to be worth approximately $19 billion per year. The continuation of this agreement solidifies Google’s position as the search giant on Apple devices.
As the antitrust case against Google continues, Apple’s flirtation with alternative search engines sheds light on the tech giant’s pursuit of options that might benefit both its revenue stream and users seeking different search experiences. Time will tell whether competition in the search engine market will be reignited, or if Google will maintain its stronghold for the foreseeable future.