DOJ Case vs. Apple, Google Comes with Billions at Stake

Image credit: Fanjianhua via Freepik

In a high-stakes game of dollars and dominance, the future of Google’s cozy arrangement with Apple hangs in the balance.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has its antitrust crosshairs on Google, challenging the tech giant’s payments to secure its position as the default search engine on Apple products. These ramifications could shake the tech industry to its core.

The Google-Apple Payoff

Google, under its parent company Alphabet, shells out a jaw-dropping billions annually to ensure that it remains the top source for Apple devices.

This mutually beneficial alliance, known as the Information Services Agreement (ISA), has been in play since 2002. However, the revenue-sharing aspect only came into play in 2005.

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The ISA deal has given Google a significant presence as the default search engine on Apple’s Safari browser for Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Apple, in turn, reaps rewards, pocketing a 40% cut from Google’s ad revenue that it pays for traffic acquisition. This sum translates to a whopping 14-16 percent of Apple’s annual operating profits.

The Department of Justice vs. Google

The antitrust saga began nearly three years ago when the DOJ filed a lawsuit against Google. DOJ accused the company of illegally monopolizing the internet by entering exclusive agreements with players like Apple, effectively positioning itself as the internet’s gatekeeper. A decision on this case is expected in 2024, and the stakes are undeniably high.

If the courts rule against Google, the ramifications could extend beyond Apple. Similar agreements Google has with companies like Samsung and Mozilla could also be at risk. However, Apple seems well-prepared for the possibility of losing its billion-dollar income from Google.

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Apple could potentially partner with another search engine to fill the default search engine slot or negotiate an agreement with Google outside the United States, where the antitrust case is centered. Additionally, Apple may introduce a choice screen for consumers, offering its own search engine as an option.

Apple’s Ace Up the Sleeve

Apple’s control over access to its massive user base, which generates over $60 billion in advertising revenues, is a significant card in its hand. Even if the Google deal goes awry, Apple could continue to command a commission, likely in the range of 25-30 percent, for providing access to its lucrative search advertising revenues.

Apple has remained tight-lipped about its dealings with Google, but its executive Eddy Cue suggested during the trial that Google was chosen as the default search engine due to its perceived quality.

Antitrust showdown: Apple and Google’s $20B deal at risk. Look into the implications in this tech industry face-off.


Bal M

Bal was BTW's copywriter specialising in tech and productivity tools. He has experience working in startups, mid-size tech companies, and non-profits.

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