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Google requested assistance from the European Union to prevent Apple’s search initiatives

The trial between the United States and Google has brought to light revelations about Google’s practices concerning Apple and its dominant search engine. Google reportedly invested a substantial sum of approximately $18 billion in 2021 to uphold its default search engine status in Safari across Apple devices, such as iPhones, iPads, and Macs. However, the considerable payment was not just to maintain the status but also to prevent Apple from creating its own search engine.

An article by The New York Times disclosed that Google had been monitoring Apple’s strides in search technology for years. The concerns peaked in 2021 when Google allegedly paid Apple around $18 billion to safeguard its search engine’s default status on iPhones. The report also noted that Apple’s Spotlight, a search tool on iPhones, started displaying more robust web results akin to Google’s, prompting Google’s plans to counter by developing its version of Spotlight and encouraging iPhone users to shift from Safari to Google’s Chrome browser.

The growing unease between Google and Apple began years earlier. In 2014, Google foresaw the potential negative impact of Apple’s iOS 8 on its revenue. This concern escalated further in 2016 when Apple renewed its search agreement with Google without expanding Siri suggestions to direct traffic. Subsequent years witnessed Apple intensifying its search team, including the hiring of a former Google executive, John Giannandrea, to bolster the Spotlight system.

Giannandrea revealed during the trial that Apple had contemplated various alternatives, like acquiring Bing or developing its search engine. However, Apple grappled with concerns about competing with Google while preserving the existing contractual agreement.

Google aimed to leverage the European Union’s Digital Markets Act to loosen Apple’s grip over the iPhone, contemplating lobbying regulators to classify Spotlight as a search engine. This strategy aimed to open up Apple’s ecosystem and facilitate increased Chrome use, potentially diverting users from Safari. The European Union is yet to make a decision on Spotlight’s designation under the law.

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