The landmark trial brought by the US government against Google is underway. In its antitrust case against Google, the government accuses the company of monopolistic practises.
As I reported yesterday, the Department of Justice's (DOJ) primary concern is that Google has, for over a decade, unlawfully maintained its monopoly in the search engine market. Kenneth Dintzer, a Department of Justice attorney, stated in his opening remarks, “This case is about the future of the internet, and whether Google's search engine will ever face meaningful competition.”
Dintzer further elaborated on the methods Google allegedly employed to maintain its dominance. He highlighted Google's hefty agreements with major tech providers, citing that Google pays over $10 billion annually to companies like Apple, ensuring that search results on iPhones default to Google. This, combined with Android phones being pre-installed with Google Search, has tilted the market scales in Google's favor, according to the DOJ.
Google's Defense and the Bing Factor
In response to the DOJ's allegations, Google's legal team presented a robust defense. John Schmidtlein, representing Google, emphasized the choices available to users, stating, “Users today have more search options and more ways to access information online than ever before.”
He particularly highlighted Microsoft's Bing, pointing out that users have always had the option to set Bing as their default search engine but have consistently chosen not to. Schmidtlein was critical of Bing, suggesting that Microsoft's failures to invest and innovate have rendered Bing unpopular. He also mentioned an instance when Firefox browsers had Bing set as the default search engine, which reportedly led many users to revert to Google Search.
However, the judge, probing deeper, questioned Schmidtlein about the actual number of users who have switched from Google to other search engines. Schmidtlein's inability to provide a concrete answer seemed to weaken his argument about the ease with which users can switch between search engines.
Earlier this year, the DoJ accused the company of destroying evidence by deleting chats between employees. Last November, Google agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to 40 states in the biggest anti-trust settlement in U.S. law.