On Tuesday, the US government claimed that Google was paying over $10 billion annually to Apple and other corporations to maintain its monopoly over online search.
The claim came on the first day of a landmark trial, which is the biggest antitrust case in the United States in more than 20 years.
As the US government started making its case against the tech giant, Justice Department lawyer Kenneth Dintzer said, “This case is about the future of the internet and whether Google will ever face real competition in search.”
Google will try to convince Judge Amit P. Mehta that the case made by the Department of Justice is not valid by bringing in dozens of witnesses over the course of 10 weeks.
Google’s lawyer, John Schmidtlein, told the court, “Google has been improving and coming up with new ideas for its search engine for decades, and the plaintiffs can’t get around this fact.”
The trial is being held in a Washington courtroom. It is the first time US authorities have gone head-to-head with a big tech company since Microsoft was sued more than 20 years ago because its Windows operating system was so popular.
“Even for Washington, DC, I think we have the most blue suits in one place here today,” Mehta joked as he looked around his courtroom at the many lawyers.
The government’s main claim in the Google case is that the tech giant unfairly dominated online search by making exclusive deals with device makers, cell operators, and other companies that left competitors with no way to compete.
Dintzer told Judge Mehta that Google gives $10 billion to Apple and other companies every year to make sure that its search engine is the default on phones and web browsers. This kills new companies before they can grow.
Over the past 10 years, this has created what the government calls a “feedback loop,” in which Google’s power grew because it had monopoly access to user data that competitors could never match.
“This wheel has been turning for more than 12 years because of this feedback loop. “It always works out well for Google,” said Dintzer.
Alphabet, which owns Google, is one of the biggest companies in the world because of this. Search ads bring in nearly 60% of the company’s revenue, which is much more than YouTube or Android phones.
“We’ll look into what Google did to keep its control… What they did is what matters, not what they could have or should have done,” Dintzer told the court.
Google said that its search engine was great because it was good and had made many investments over the years.
“This court can’t get in the way of the market and tell Google that it can’t compete. “That goes against US antitrust law,” Schmidtlein from Google said.
Schmidtlein insisted that executives from Apple and other companies would testify that Google got to be the default search engine on the iPhone and browsers “on the merits.”
The people who are said to be hurt the most by this case are Google’s competitors, like Microsoft’s Bing and DuckDuckGo, which haven’t been able to get a big share of the market for search or search ads yet.
Google is still the most popular search engine in the world, with 90% of the market in the U.S. and around the world. A lot of this comes from mobile use on iPhones and phones that run on Android, which is owned by Google.
After about three months of meetings, Mehta’s decision isn’t likely to come for a long time.
He could ignore what the government had to say or order major changes, like splitting up Google’s businesses or changing how it works.
No matter what the decision is, either side is likely to fight it, which could make the case last for years.
Washington’s case against Microsoft began in 1998. In 2001, a deal was reached after an appeal overturned a judge’s order that the company be broken up.