In newly unsealed testimony from the ongoing Google antitrust case, it is revealed that Apple considered buying Bing and collaborating with DuckDuckGo.
According to recently unsealed court testimony, Apple explored switching its devices’ default search engine from Google to either Microsoft’s Bing or the privacy-focused DuckDuckGo.
The material was discovered during the ongoing antitrust trial the Department of Justice (DOJ) is conducting against Google.
Google is charged by the DOJ for abusing its dominance in the search business. The case includes discussion of the revenue-sharing arrangement between Google and Apple, under which Google pays Apple billions of dollars every year to continue serving as the default search engine on all of Apple’s devices.
The testimonies were unsealed by Judge Amit Mehta, who ruled that they go to the heart of the case and should be public.
A Bing Acquisition: Apple’s Consideration
John Giannandrea, senior vice president of Apple, testified that the business talked with Microsoft about acquiring Bing or forming a joint venture in 2018 and again in 2020.
These discussions were a part of Apple’s internal evaluation process, which looked at how well Bing and Google’s search results compared in terms of quality. Despite having a poorer overall rating, Bing and Google were tied for first place in desktop English searches.
Notably, from 2013 to 2017, Bing served as Apple’s default search engine for certain of its products, including Siri and Spotlight searches.
Nevertheless, Apple finally elected to keep the $19 billion per year contract it had with Google.
Internal Apple emails that were made public throughout the trial provided evidence that the business was using Bing as a negotiating chip to get more money from Google. Mikhail Parakhin, Microsoft’s director of advertising and web services, attested to this during his evidence.
DuckDuckGo: The Privacy-Focused Alternative
Approximately 20 meetings and phone calls were made between Apple and DuckDuckGo in addition to Bing to discuss the prospect of making DuckDuckGo the default search engine for Safari’s private browsing mode. During his testimony, DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg verified these conversations.
Giannandrea denied knowledge of any serious consideration to replace Google with DuckDuckGo despite these discussions and DuckDuckGo’s successful integration of several of its privacy features into Safari. He voiced worries that DuckDuckGo’s reliance on Bing for search results would jeopardize user privacy.
Unveiling The Secrets Of Tech Giants
The unsealing of these testimonies offers a rare glimpse into the strategic maneuvering in an industry primarily dominated by Google.
The trial has further shed light on why few tech giants have seriously tried to compete with Google in the search sector.
The ongoing antitrust case against Google is the DOJ’s first against a major tech company in over two decades.
Following intense criticism of the trial’s secrecy, the revelation of these testimony represents a critical turning point in the trial’s openness.