The US Department of Justice accused Google of not playing fair and stifling competition by paying enormous funds. Through these anti-competitive practices, Google is reportedly maintaining its dominance among other search engines in the market.
Concerns regarding Google’s practices were raised in a hearing that took place in Washington, DC. DOJ attorney Kenneth Dintzer voiced his concerns about deals Google was reportedly making with famous phone makers and network carriers in the United States with the purpose of keeping Google search as the default search engine on their phones.
In a statement to Judge Amit Mehta, Dintzer stated that Google invests billions of dollars in ensuring that its search engine is the default because people rarely switch away from the default. Furthermore, he claimed they are buying default exclusivity because being the default matters a lot to them.
The exact amount that Google was supposedly offering these phone companies was not disclosed, but according to Dintzer, the companies that Google was allegedly paying off included Apple, Samsung, and Motorolla. Toni Sacconaghi, a Bernstein analyst, claimed in an investment note that Google could have paid Apple up to $15 billion to ensure that they kept Google as the default browser on Apple devices.
Apart from Apple, Google also has contacts with popular telecom carriers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon to ensure that they pre-load its search engine on new handsets. These contracts are considered anti-competitive because they essentially shut out other search engines from entering the race.
Furthermore, by doing so, Google can gain access to a massive amount of user data that they can use to optimize their advertisements. This technique is quite ingenious, albeit anti-competitive because even though many people have the option to change their default browser, they don’t bother to do so.
Google’s attorney John Schmidtlein has refuted the DOJ’s claims. He argues that users can do so much on their phones without using google, such as buy a plane ticket from an app or shop on Amazon, and that they do face competition from other search engines.
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