The ongoing antitrust case against Google has brought to light new details about a pitch made by Google CEO Sundar Pichai to pre-install Google Search on iPhones. As reported by The Verge, the pitch was part of the multi-billion dollar agreement between Apple and Google, which designates Google as the default search engine on Apple’s platforms, with Apple receiving a share of the advertising revenue generated from these searches.
In 2018, Apple raised concerns when it observed that Google’s overall revenue was growing faster than the revenue Apple was receiving from its search arrangement. Google responded with a series of suggestions. These insights were discovered through emails and meeting notes from Don Harrison, Google’s partnerships executive. The notes emphasized that Apple, not Google, had control over the volume and type of traffic flowing through its Safari browser.
One issue Google highlighted was Apple’s Siri Suggestions feature, which Google believed was diminishing the number of searches from iPhone users. Pichai, who meets with Apple CEO Tim Cook annually to discuss their partnership, proposed a collaborative approach. During one of these meetings, Cook suggested that Apple and Google should be “deep partners, deeply connected where our services end and yours begin.”
Pichai recommended building a Google Search application for iOS, with a commitment to its long-term support. The objective was to create an app associated with Google rather than emphasizing Apple’s Siri and Spotlight search results. However, Cook listened to the proposal without providing a specific response.
Although Google already offers a dedicated app for iPhone and iPad, Pichai’s idea was to create a more integrated experience within the overall iOS ecosystem. The specific format of this integration, whether a dedicated app or integration with Siri and Spotlight Search, remained unclear. The key takeaway is that Pichai aimed for Google’s product to be pre-installed on every iPhone, an idea that Tim Cook ultimately rejected.
Some recent revelations also uncovered the substantial financial agreement between the two tech giants. Initially estimated at around $10 billion annually, this payment to Apple for being the default search engine on iOS devices is now suggested to be between $18 billion and $20 billion.