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Here are five key points to know about the ongoing Google antitrust trial

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By Daniel Edu

1. Google’s Investments to Protect Search Monopoly: During the trial, it was revealed that Google makes substantial payments, estimated at around $10 billion annually, to ensure that its search engine remains the default option on smartphones and web browsers. Witnesses from companies like Verizon, Samsung, and Google itself testified about these payments. The CEOs of privacy-focused search engines, DuckDuckGo and Neeva, argued that these defaults have a detrimental impact on their businesses, with Neeva ultimately shutting down.

2. Influence of Google’s Search Dominance on Advertisers: Google’s search dominance has translated into significant clout in the advertising market. Google executive Adam Juda explained that the company uses a formula to determine Long Term Value (LTV) when placing ads in front of users, considering factors like ad quality. However, advertisers are not informed of their LTV, and Google employs “tunings” to adjust ad prices. This has led to higher advertising prices over the past decade. Google’s vice president and general manager of ads, Jerry Dischler, revealed that the company earned over $100 billion from search ads in 2020.

3. Google’s Vast Search Queries as an AI Advantage: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella testified that access to a large volume of search queries, as Google has, can greatly benefit artificial intelligence (AI) development. Nadella suggested that Microsoft, if equipped with such data, could improve its search engine Bing and potentially dominate in the field of AI. He emphasized that AI development requires significant computing power and extensive training data.

4. Google’s Defense No. 1: Quality Attracts Users: Google’s primary defense has been that its search engine’s popularity is not solely due to anticompetitive practices but rather because of its quality. The company argues that users are satisfied with its services, and if dissatisfied, they have the option to switch to alternatives. Apple’s senior vice president of services, Eddie Cue, praised Google’s search and indicated that discussions with Microsoft and DuckDuckGo, which uses Bing searches, did not meet their standards.

5. Google’s Defense No. 2: Default Status Isn’t Everything: Google’s lawyers have contended that being the default search engine does not guarantee user loyalty. They cited examples of Microsoft becoming the default on certain devices in the past, but users still opting for Google. John Schmidtlein, Google’s lead lawyer, highlighted that users will choose their preferred search engine based on their experiences and satisfaction, regardless of defaults on devices.

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