Since September 12, the Justice Department and a group of state attorneys general have questioned more than 30 witnesses as they try to prove that Google broke antitrust laws in a landmark antitrust trial that ravaged the technology industry. Can affect the power of.
The government is now concluding its position in the case – US et al. v. Google – Starting this week, the Internet giant is setting the stage to increase its security.
Two key threads emerged from the government’s case: what it said Google did to illegally maintain its search and search advertising monopoly and how those practices harmed consumers and advertisers. We present the main arguments.
How did Google maintain its online search dominance?
Google paid Apple billions of dollars to crush competition
On the first day of the trial, the Justice Department said Google had paid Apple and other tech platforms more than $10 billion a year to make itself the default search engine on iPhones and other devices.
This was perhaps the most significant evidence supporting the government’s central argument: that Google broke the law by using multibillion-dollar contracts to maintain its monopoly as the default search engine on the Internet. The staggering value of the deals was not previously disclosed and helped the Justice Department decide the direction of the lawsuit.
Since then the figure of $10 billion has become larger. The Justice Department called several witnesses who said Google’s rich default deals made it impossible to compete. Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella testified that he tried almost every year to convince Apple to switch its search default to Bing – and failed. DuckDuckGo said Google’s default agreements made it nearly impossible for consumers to find its rival search engine.
The Justice Department also displayed internal Google documents in which employees considered the power of those omissions to ward off rivals. The company has countered that anyone can easily switch the defaults on Safari and other browsers.
Google’s scale makes it impossible for others to compete
The Justice Department has also taken issue with the idea that Google’s sheer scale distorts the competitive landscape, driving even good competitors out of the search engine business – which only further empowers Google.
“This feedback loop, this wheel has been turning for more than 12 years,” Kenneth Dintzer, the Justice Department’s chief court lawyer, said in his opening statement. “And it always turns out to Google’s advantage.”
Microsoft’s Mr. Nadella, one of the government’s key witnesses, called the Internet the “Google Web” and said his larger company had also largely failed to dent Google’s search dominance.
In a shocking moment, Judge Amit P. Mehta, presiding over the case, asked former Google executive Sridhar Ramaswamy, who later founded a competing search engine called Neeva, why Google paid Apple and others .
Mr Ramaswamy replied, “The payments effectively make the ecosystem exceptionally resistant to change.”
How does Google’s search dominance harm people?
Google blocks consumers from accessing options
Government lawyers said that Google’s dominance in search was resulting in a poor quality product being distributed to consumers.
In one example, the government said that if Google were to compete more with other search engines, consumers could have access to services that were more respectful of their personal privacy. As it stands, government lawyers said Google keeps track of users to better target them with ads that boost its bottom line.
To underline its case, the government called Gabriel Weinberg, chief executive of DuckDuckGo, as a witness. DuckDuckGo says it collects less information from users than Google.
Mr. Weinberg said his company struggled to get its search engine in front of users because of Google’s control over default search engines. He testified that DuckDuckGo had sought deals with companies such as Apple and Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, to become the default search engine in the browsers’ private modes. But the companies had contracts with Google that were “the main thing stopping us from doing a deal with them,” he said.
Google countered that it is constantly improving its search engine, adding features to improve the experience for consumers.
Google uses its search dominance to dominate online advertising
The government said Google’s power in search has allowed it to gain influence over the market for advertisements that run alongside links that appear in response to a user’s query.
Joshua Lowcock, an executive at an ad buying firm, testified when he testified that his firm, during a period several years ago, increased Google’s share of search by more than 88 percent and Bing was calculated to be more than 6 percent. That dominance, he said, made Google’s search ads unattractive to the company’s customers and limited the usefulness of Bing’s ads.
The government also called employees of major advertisers such as Home Depot and JPMorgan Chase to testify on the importance of Google’s search advertising services.
Arjan Dijk, a onetime Google executive who now runs marketing for travel site Booking.com, said Google’s search ads gave it access to a “special, prime” pool of potential customers.
This allows Google to raise ad prices
During testimony, the Justice Department pressed Google employees on whether they could raise prices for search ads because marketers have limited options if they want to spend their money elsewhere.
In a 2019 email shown in court, Jerry Deischler, a Google executive, wrote to a colleague that the company was in danger of missing its revenue targets. If it wants to avoid scaring Wall Street, the company should consider changing aspects of its products to drive more search queries and increase advertising revenue, he wrote.
Jeff Hurst, former chief operating officer of Expedia, pointed to the experience of its vacation rental site, Vrbo, as proof of Google’s power to raise prices without providing much value to advertisers.
In 2015, Vrbo spent $21 million on Google search ads, driving nearly 500 million online visits to Vrbo, Mr. Hurst testified. As of 2019, Vrbo was paying Google approximately $290 million for search advertising for the same amount of traffic as four years earlier.
“We spent a lot with Google for no additional benefit,” Mr. Hurst said.
In cross-examination of Mr Hurst, a Google lawyer said that both Expedia and Vrbo had grown and prospered since 2015, and that Expedia had changed its strategy to focus more on generating traffic directly from mobile apps for its core businesses, Expedia Has been transferred to. Vrbo and Hotels.com.