Billions on the line for Google as web search monopoly trial nears end

Chocolate Factory relies on dominance for bulk of its revenues, says US

Both the US government and Google will today present their closing arguments in the search engine monopoly case from September.

The antitrust lawsuit concerns Google's supremacy in the world of web search engines, which the government argues only exists thanks to anticompetitive practices. By paying electronics vendors and developers to use Google by default, the Department of Justice says the Chocolate Factory created a monopoly where other search engines can't compete.

Google is certainly paying companies lots of money to keep its search engine number one. During the trial last year, the ad biz disclosed it had spent $26.3 billion in 2021 on deals that kept Google as the default search engine for a variety of internet browsers.

Apple alone received between $18 billion and $20 billion in 2020 just to keep Google as the default search engine for Safari, something that Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai insists is to preempt competition from the iPhone and Macmaker. That $20 billion would have been about 18 percent of Apple's operating income that year.

Though all those billions were enough for Apple not to make its own search engine or use Bing, apparently they weren't enough to stop the company talking smack about its rival behind closed doors. At trial, the Department of Justice revealed internal documents and presentations that showed Apple had (and has) significant privacy concerns about Google Search, and called Android "a massive tracking device."

Even Microsoft, a company valued at nearly $3 trillion, says it couldn't compete with Google since its search engine is the default for practically every Android and Apple smartphone, which represent pretty much the entire market.

Google's argument has always been that it's in a distant first because it's simply the best and its deals are just the cost of doing business. Pichai even says its deals made for better competition, and that if users wanted to stop using Google search, they can whenever they want.

Both the feds and the ad biz will have to make their final case before Judge Amit Mehta, who will decide the case alone as there is no jury to convince. Closing arguments begin today and should be completed tomorrow.

Should Google fail to defend its business before Judge Mehta, it could have disastrous consequences for the ad biz, which by far makes most of its money on advertising, according to Statista. If Google's dominance in search engines is dismantled by the courts, it could mean the loss of tens of billions of dollars in safe, annual revenue for Google.

Or the judge could just fine Google and business would carry on as normal. That's assuming the DoJ wins, which isn't a sure thing by any means. ®

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