Google has long been the default search engine on the iPhone and it’s a deal that involves Google paying Apple a lot of money. It’s also a deal that continues to come under scrutiny, and this time Apple VP Eddy Cue found himself in court to defend it.
Cue was in court as a witness in the US v. Google antitrust trial over the company’s search business. And he was there so that the court could try and decide whether Google earned its spot as the default, or if it’s just a mere business decision.
For his part, Cue seemingly stuck up for Google, saying that there « wasn’t a valid alternative to Google at the time » he struck a deal with Google CEO Sundar Pichai in 2016. That deal was a reworking of one that was originally signed back in 2002.
There still isn’t one
The Verge, reporting on Cue’s appearance, says that he went on to add that he doesn’t believe there is a valid alternative to Google even today. Cue’s comments are clearly what Google wanted to hear, with the insinuation being that Apple chose Google as the default because it was the best search engine at the time of the decision — and not just because it gets paid every time Google makes money off an iPhone user’s search usage.
« That question — whether Apple picked Google because it’s the most lucrative choice or the best product — was a key part of Cue’s testimony and, in fact, a key part of the DOJ’s entire case against Google, » The Verge points out. « The Justice Department is focused on the deals Google makes — with Apple but also with Samsung and Mozilla and many others — to ensure it is the default search engine on practically every platform. »
Cue went on to say that Apple wants to « get people up and running as fast as possible » when they buy new iPhones, like the new iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. He says that offering people the chance to choose a new default search engine during the setup process isn’t something he’d want to do because that process « is just the critical stuff. »
In the case of this antitrust trial, it’s probably fair to say that search is pretty critical indeed.
The trial, as they say, continues.