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Apple has an agreement with Google that it won't develop its own internet search engine so long as Google pays it to remain the default option in Safari, a new class action alleges.

Filed in a California court earlier this week against Apple, Google, and their respective CEOs, the lawsuit alleges the two companies have a non-compete agreement in the internet search business that violates US antitrust laws.

applegoogle.jpg

Specifically, the complaint charges Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai of participating in "regular secret meetings" in which Google agrees to share its profits with Apple if it is given preferential treatment on devices like the iPhone and iPad.

The class action also alleges that Google pays Apple annual multi-billion-dollar payments based on an agreement that Apple won't launch its own competing search engine, and that the non-compete agreement includes plans to actively suppress smaller competitors and acquire actual and potential competitors.

The complaint claims that advertising rates are subsequently higher than rates would be in a competitive system. It therefore seeks an injunction prohibiting the non-compete agreement between Google and Apple, a cessation of the profit-sharing agreement and preferential treatment, and an end to the multi-billion dollar payments.

Lastly, the complaint calls for "the breakup of Google into separate and independent companies and the breakup of Apple into separate and independent companies in accordance with the precedent of the breakup of Standard Oil company into Exxon, Mobile, Conoco, Amoco, Sohio, Chevron, and others."

It's no secret Apple and Google have a considerable monetary agreement that ensures Google's position as the default search engine on Apple devices. Neither company has ever confirmed exactly how much Google pays to be the default search engine on Apple devices in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries, but it's rumored to be in the billions.

In 2020, The New York Times reported that Apple receives an estimated $8-12 billion per year in exchange for making Google the default search on its devices. According to one analyst, Google's payment to Apple in 2021 to maintain this status quo may have reached up to $15 billion.

This is believed to be the single biggest payment Google makes to anyone, and could account for up to a fifth of Apple's annual profits. But it has also drawn scrutiny in the past, in particular from the US Justice Department, which claims that the deal is representative of illegal tactics used to protect Google's monopoly and stifle competition.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority has also called the arrangement a "significant barrier to entry and expansion" for rivals in the search engine market, and in 2020 asked for enforcement authorities to be provided with a range of options to address the deal between Apple and Google to provide a more level playing field for other search engines.

Bringing the antitrust case to a San Francisco court this week, lawyer Joseph M Alioto said: "These powerful companies abused their size by unlawfully foreclosing and monopolizing major markets which in an otherwise free enterprise system would have created jobs, lowered prices, increased production, added new competitors, encouraged innovations, and increased the quality of services in the digital age."

Apple and Google would likely argue that while the payments are indeed for Google to remain the default search option, users can select other search engines in Safari including Microsoft's Bing, Apollo Fund's Yahoo, and independent search engines DuckDuckGo and Ecosia.

Apple would also likely point out that it is already in the search engine business and maintains an active web crawler, called Applebot. The crawler chiefly operates in the background to improve ‌Siri‌ and Spotlight search results, although past reports have interpreted Applebot's increased activity as Apple "stepping up efforts" to develop its own search technology should its agreement with Google become incompatible with antitrust laws.

Article Link: Google Basically Pays Apple to Stay Out of the Search Engine Business, Class Action Lawsuit Alleges
 
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jdavid_rp

macrumors regular
Feb 25, 2020
114
304
Too bad Apple chose the money over developing a private search engine for its users.
I already changed to Ecosia. I dont really use a search engine anymore as I always visit the same sites so it works for me for the couple searches I do from time to time.
 

iamgalt

macrumors 6502
Jul 25, 2012
312
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So Apple is now accused of antitrust violations for NOT developing a search engine, and NOT forcing people to use a particular search engine? Just making google the default, which can easily be changed? Is there anything in this day in age that is not considered antitrust from a large company?
 

betterbegood

macrumors 6502
May 21, 2014
383
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San Lonkong
So Apple is now accused of antitrust violations for NOT developing a search engine, and NOT forcing people to use a particular search engine? Just making google the default, which can easily be changed? Is there anything in this day in age that is not considered antitrust from a large company?

No. Google is blocking Apple through money to let them compete against them. Imagine paying another carpenter in your city yearly for not working so you can have the entire market for yourself and charge whatever you want. Its gross capitalism and it needs to be stopped.
 

senttoschool

macrumors 68000
Nov 2, 2017
1,668
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Bringing the antitrust case to a San Francisco court this week, lawyer Joseph M Alioto said: "These powerful companies abused their size by unlawfully foreclosing and monopolizing major markets which in an otherwise free enterprise system would have created jobs, lowered prices, increased production, added new competitors, encouraged innovations, and increased the quality of services in the digital age."
This is an example of a populist lawyer. Basically, just make people feel angry about something. San Francisco has way worse problems than this.
 

wyarp

macrumors regular
Apr 18, 2011
234
719
No. Google is blocking Apple through money to let them compete against them. Imagine paying another carpenter in your city yearly for not working so you can have the entire market for yourself and charge whatever you want. Its gross capitalism and it needs to be stopped.
If the other carpenter is happy with the deal then where's the issue exactly?
 

senttoschool

macrumors 68000
Nov 2, 2017
1,668
3,370
Too bad Apple chose the money over developing a private search engine for its users.
I already changed to Ecosia. I dont really use a search engine anymore as I always visit the same sites so it works for me for the couple searches I do from time to time.
Building one as good as Google's is a monumental challenge. People will just make fun of Apple when its search results suck compared to Google's and the first thing techies recommend everyone to do is to change the default Apple search engine to Google.

Developing a search engine is also extremely costly. Since Apple's primary business isn't selling ads, it would be extremely hard for Apple to recuperate the cost. There is no other way to make money besides selling ads for a search engine.

In addition, if Apple made a search engine, lawyers would be targeting Apple for making its own search engine the default.

It's actually lose/lose for Apple to make a search engine.
 

Velli

macrumors 6502
Feb 1, 2013
437
625
No. Google is blocking Apple through money to let them compete against them. Imagine paying another carpenter in your city yearly for not working so you can have the entire market for yourself and charge whatever you want. Its gross capitalism and it needs to be stopped.
BS. Google is paying Apple to not use Bing or Duckduckgo, or any other search engine including what Apple would maybe, maybe not develop if Google didn’t exist. There is no evidence that if this agreement didn’t exist, Apple would engage in developing it’s own search engine rather than use Bing. In fact, I am inclined to believe that if Apple had the motivation to do that, no amount of money would pursuade them to use Google rather than their own.

Since they clearly have no intent (yet) to create a search engine, they are simply going with the highest bidder. I don’t see an issue in that.
 

Velli

macrumors 6502
Feb 1, 2013
437
625
Building one as good as Google's is a monumental challenge. People will just make fun of Apple when its search results suck compared to Google's and the first thing techies recommend everyone to do is to change the default Apple search engine to Google.

Developing a search engine is also extremely costly. Since Apple's primary business isn't selling ads, it would be extremely hard for Apple to recuperate the cost.

In addition, if Apple made a search engine, lawyers would be targeting Apple for making its own search engine the default.

It's actually lose/lose for Apple to make a search engine.
I agree with most of this, except that I don’t actually think Google is good. It’s just that the alternatives aren’t better. Google is broken, I can’t find anything anymore, unless I wan’t to buy stuff, or am content with informational articles from the top five. The first two pages are paid links, the rest is less relevant, to make the paid links look more relevant. Actually relevant pages that are not paid, are close to invisible when you google.
 

chris1958

macrumors member
Jan 9, 2018
91
72
How could Apple compete against Google with homegrown search engine? Building and running a search engine costs a lot of money. You can use the data of the users to make money, but this would go contrary against the marketing of Apple as privacy-first company. Alternatively Apple could sell a search-app as subscription.
 

Marshall73

macrumors 68020
Apr 20, 2015
2,470
2,430
Google pay Apple to be the preferred search engine on Apple devices, fact. This is acknowledged and published by both parties. Apple use their own search engine for Siri but it has no web front end.

It's about time the law changed so that those bringing frivolous court cases have to pay costs of all parties involved should their case be thrown out due to having no merit.
 

apparatchik

macrumors 6502a
Mar 6, 2008
716
2,129
Apple already has a fully working search engine which you access through spotlight and siri, it is just not directly accesible through a url and can’t be set as default for Safari.

Apple has its own crawlers, SEO rules and web bots. The investment for Siri and Spotlight not to rely on Google for web results is already there and done.

Truth is were it to come to this, they could make the switch rather quickly.
 

betterbegood

macrumors 6502
May 21, 2014
383
850
San Lonkong
BS. Google is paying Apple to not use Bing or Duckduckgo, or any other search engine including what Apple would maybe, maybe not develop if Google didn’t exist. There is no evidence that if this agreement didn’t exist, Apple would engage in developing it’s own search engine rather than use Bing. In fact, I am inclined to believe that if Apple had the motivation to do that, no amount of money would pursuade them to use Google rather than their own.

Since they clearly have no intent (yet) to create a search engine, they are simply going with the highest bidder. I don’t see an issue in that.

You are wrong. Plenty of rumors of Apple looking into making their own search engine, and why wouldn't that rumor reach Google for them to make sure that Apple holds back on that?
 

BootsWalking

macrumors 68020
Feb 1, 2014
2,192
13,743
Tim Cook publicly railed against Google for having a business plan that monetizes users' privacy, at the same time negotiating a secret deal to be paid $12B/year to deliver Apple's users to Google for monetization. Think about that the next time Mr. Cook proclaims how important your privacy is to Apple.
 
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iamgalt

macrumors 6502
Jul 25, 2012
312
1,095
No. Google is blocking Apple through money to let them compete against them. Imagine paying another carpenter in your city yearly for not working so you can have the entire market for yourself and charge whatever you want. Its gross capitalism and it needs to be stopped.
But Google doesn’t have the entire market to themselves. As the article points out, there’s bing, DuckDuckGo, yahoo, etc. and all of those can be used on your Apple products with a simple change.

And if your example was correct (which it’s not), that wouldn’t be capitalism, it would be the opposite; anti-capitalism. Capitalism is about free markets and competition (which there is with other search engines). What you described is not free market, and therefore not capitalism.
 

Dandoodle

macrumors member
Nov 16, 2020
67
127
uk, planet earth!
This is pretty rotten really. Given apple are all about privacy but are happy for google to continue to mine our data. Seems like its one rule for google and another for facebook. Apple should go all in on privacy and create it's own search engine. Next should be to stop adverts to paid customers. The idea I get badly placed ads in apple news is just ridiculous!
 

Neodym

macrumors demi-god
Jul 5, 2002
2,377
1,006
The problem is that while the paid carpenter is happy, consumers get ruined.
In this scenario, laws are there to protect users not the carpenter.

If you remove competition, prices will skyrocket.
So you say that the Carpenter must be forced to work? Perhaps even having to pay fines if he stops working (e.g. retiring) while he is the only competitor on a given market?
 

George Dawes

Contributor
Jul 17, 2014
2,466
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=VH=
Biggest problem I have is it keeps coming up with results from the USA despite me changing the default to europe , makes it virtually unusable , what’s the best alternative in your estimations ?
 

centauratlas

macrumors 68000
Jan 29, 2003
1,597
2,828
Florida
Apple already has a fully working search engine which you access through spotlight and siri, it is just not directly accesible through a url and can’t be set as default for Safari.

Apple has its own crawlers, SEO rules and web bots. The investment for Siri and Spotlight not to rely on Google for web results is already there and done.

Truth is were it to come to this, they could make the switch rather quickly.
The only problem with the apple bot crawler that I've seen so far is that it doesn't follow robots.txt. However the apple engineers on the apple bot team are very responsive.

I hope apple launches a good Google competitor, but I am afraid it would be a v 1.0 Apple Maps quality one at first.
 
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