Google Paid Apple to Stay Out of the Search, Lawsuit Claims


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At this point, it’s a bit of an open secret that Google likely pays Apple billions of dollars each year to remain the default search engine that crops up on people’s iPhones and Mac computers. Now, a new class-action suit is alleging that the tech titans’ dealings go even farther than that. An antitrust case against the two companies that was filed in California earlier this week accuses Apple of unfairly giving Google’s search engine a top slot on its devices and accuses the company of agreeing to forgo any plans to develop a search engine of its own to avoid competing with its deep-pocketed business buddy.

The suit—which names Apple, Google, and CEOs Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai as defendants—doesn’t name the exact dollar amount allegedly paid off to Apple in exchange for the company not entering the search business. But based on bystander recordings taken of the “clandestine meetings” where this agreement took place, the suit alleges that Google had paid Apple upwards of $50 billion not to compete in search.

“These meetings were undertaken to promote the shared vision that Apple and Google would act in effect as one company that was merged without merging,” the suit goes on. “Apple and Google invented the word ‘co-opetitive’ to describe their unlawful combination and conspiracy.”

That’s not all. The suit also alleges that Google agreed to share an undisclosed chunk of profits from search ads (which nets the company tens of billions every year) with Apple, as part of a non-compete agreement signed between the two companies. “According to the suit, this non-compete also mandates that Apple “actively suppress” Google’s smaller search engine competitors (like Bing or DuckDuckGo) by making Google the default search engine for Apple’s Safari browser, for Siri, and for Spotlight, Apple’s system-wide search feature. When that suppression wasn’t enough, the suit alleges, the two companies would engage in the tried and true practice of acquiring companies before they became too much of a headache. The suit claims Apple has acquired more than 120—and Google more than 247—competitors and potential…