Google Paid How Much to Be the Default Search Engine?

Google’s antitrust trial revealed the multi-billion dollar tech company paid out a whopping total of $26.3 billion in 2021 to keep its status as the default search engine on phones and multiple browsers, Bloomberg Law reported Friday. The Justice Department argued that by spending an exorbitant amount of money to retain its default status, Google is ensuring the market isn’t competitive with other search engines.

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Prabhakar Raghavan, Google’s senior vice president and search head, revealed the gigantic numbers during his testimony, according to Bloomberg Law. The search engine giant pays companies such as Apple.

“I feel a keen sense not to become the next roadkill,” Raghavan told The New York Times Thursday. “If we become second class, we become irrelevant over time.”

He claimed Amazon is one of two of Google’s most formidable competitors and said the company stayed ahead of it and other search engines by relentlessly increasing its research and development. Raghavan claimed Google remains a top search engine because of its quality and ease of use, saying users can switch to Microsoft’s Bing or DuckDuckGo if they choose.

“As I constantly remind my team, nobody wakes up every morning and says I have to run a Google query,” Raghavan told The Times, saying that they simply go to the service that best suits their needs.

Yet, in a redacted copy of an internal email chain released on Friday, Jim Kolotouros, the vice president of Android Platform Partnerships, wrote: “Chrome exists to serve Google search, and if it cannot do that because it is regulated to be set by the user, the value of users using Chrome goes to almost zero (for me).”

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Google’s payout to make it the default search engine comes weeks after Bernstein analysts reported the company paid Apple roughly $18 billion in 2021 to keep Chrome as the default on Macs, iPads, and iPhones. The report, shared with The Register, estimates that Google’s payout accounts for 14% to 16% of Apple’s annual operating profits.

“Google invests billions in defaults, knowing people won’t change them,” DOJ attorney Kenneth Dintzer told Mehta during a hearing in Washington, CNBC reported. “They are buying default exclusivity because defaults matter a lot.”

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