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Apple could lose billions after DOJ slaps Google with antitrust action

An antitrust action against Google could result in major consequences for a number of other companies.
By

Published onSeptember 9, 2022

TL;DR
  • Google pays Samsung, Apple, and other telecom giants billions of dollars every year to maintain Google’s search engine dominance.
  • The DOJ says this behavior is anti-competitive and is challenging its legality.
  • Apple, Samsung, and the other telecom companies will lose those big paychecks if Google loses.

On Thursday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reached out to a federal judge to accuse Google of anti-competitive behavior. If the DOJ’s motion moves to a trial and Google is found guilty, it could end up costing a number of other companies billions of dollars, including some big names like Apple, Samsung, AT&T, and more.

There are many reasons why Google is widely known as the top search engine, but what you may not know is that one of those reasons is that the company pays billions of dollars to be the default option on most browsers and all US smartphones, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Avoiding outright saying how much Google spends, an attorney for the DOJ, Kenneth Dintzer, told the federal judge, “Google invests billions in defaults, knowing people won’t change them. They are buying default exclusivity because defaults matter a lot.”

To provide a little context into the figures we’re talking about here, a lawsuit from 2014 revealed that Google paid Apple $1 billion to be the main search engine on iPhone according to 9To5Mac. And that sum has skyrocketed since then to an estimated $15-$20 billion this year.

In its defense, Google’s attorney, John Schmidtlein, claims the DOJ and states are focusing too much on the smaller search engines and that Google’s real competition is companies like ByteDance, Meta, Amazon, Grubhub, and other sites where users search for information.

Dintzer argues, “Google’s contracts make it the ‘gateway’ by which most people find websites on the internet, which has allowed it to prevent rivals from gaining the scale that would be needed to challenge its search engine.”

While all of this sounds serious, this is just the hearing. The actual trial isn’t expected to start until next year. But if Google loses, those exorbitant paychecks it sends to the companies it contracts with will stop, costing those companies a lot of money.

Google isn’t the only tech giant that has found itself in legal trouble recently. Samsung is also dealing with a lawsuit of its own after a data breach.