Apple made Google the default search engine for the Safari web browser on iPhone and Mac because it’s the best option, not because Google paid billions of dollars for the prime placement, according to a top Apple executive.
Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services, made the claim Tuesday during testimony in the antitrust trial United States et al v. Google LLC. Cue also told the court that Apple’s deal with Google doesn’t violate his company’s oft-stated position on protecting user privacy.
Apple says Google beats all other search engines
The Department of Justice and a number of state attorneys general allege that Google has a monopoly in the internet search business, and that it uses its dominance to stifle competition so it stays on top.
Apple has a large role in the government’s case. iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the United States, and Google pays Apple to be the default search engine on the handsets’ Safari browser. The exact size of the payment is being kept secret in the antitrust case, but it’s certainly billions of dollars.
Apple services chief Cue took to the stand Tuesday and argued, “We make Google be the default search engine because we’ve always thought it was the best,” The Verge reported.
A lawyer for the Department of Justice counterargued that it would be easy to give Apple users the option to pick their own search engine when setting up a new iPhone. Cue said that’s not going to happen: “We try to get people up and running as fast as possible.”
Apple and Google and privacy
Next, the Apple SVP was asked to reconcile his company’s public position that “privacy is a fundamental human right” with sending users to Google, a company that Apple execs regularly criticize for violating user privacy.
According to The Verge, Cue pointed out that Apple’s deal with Google requires the search engine to allow searches from users that haven’t logged in. And Apple designed Safari to make it difficult for Google and other companies to track users, including blocking cookies by default.