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Apple’s Conversations With Bing, DuckDuckGo

Google Antitrust Trial
Google Antitrust Trial

Newly unsealed court testimony in the ongoing Google antitrust case reveals that Apple considered replacing Google with another search engine on its devices. These developments shed light on how Apple makes strategic decisions and reveal the company’s efforts to broaden its search engine partnerships. This article delves into Apple’s consideration of Bing and DuckDuckGo as possible alternatives to Google, explaining the company’s thinking behind their consideration of these options and explaining why they ultimately decided to stick with Google.

Apple’s Thoughtful Bing Purchase

John Giannandrea, Apple’s senior vice president, testified that in 2018 and 2020, Apple and Microsoft discussed the possibility of Apple acquiring Bing or forming a joint venture to acquire Bing. The purpose of these tests was to gauge how Bing’s search results stacked up against those of Google. Although Bing lagged behind Google in most areas, it was able to catch up in the realm of desktop English search.

It’s interesting to note that between 2013 and 2017, Apple used Bing as the default search service for Siri and Spotlight searches. Despite these talks, Apple decided to keep its current partnership with Google, which brings in about $19 billion in revenue per year. Evidence from internal Apple emails presented at trial indicated that Bing was used as a bargaining chip to secure better terms with Google. In his testimony, Mikhail Parakhin, head of advertising and web services at Microsoft, confirmed this.

Finding Privacy-Friendly Search Engines with DuckDuckGo

Apple held roughly 20 meetings and phone calls with DuckDuckGo to discuss making it the default search engine for Safari’s private browsing mode, joining Bing. Users who value their privacy have made DuckDuckGo the most popular search engine in recent years. DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg testified that the company had indeed met with Apple.

Giannandrea suggested that Apple never seriously considered switching from Google to DuckDuckGo, despite these discussions and DuckDuckGo’s successful integration of privacy technologies into Safari. He worried that users’ privacy might be at risk because DuckDuckGo uses Bing for search results. DuckDuckGo’s privacy-focused approach is consistent with Apple’s values, but it seems there were concerns about the relevance and accuracy of its search results.

Strategy Lessons from the Tech Sector

The testimony that has been unsealed offers a rare glimpse into the tech industry’s behind-the-scenes strategic maneuvering. It draws attention to the difficulties that businesses face in trying to compete with Google and the intricate dynamics that arise from search engine partnerships. Insight into the inner workings of the search industry and its effect on competition have been provided by the ongoing Google antitrust case, the first against a major tech company in over two decades.

The release of these testimonies is a major turning point in the trial’s openness, easing public worries about its lack of visibility. Judge Amit Mehta’s decision to release these depositions has greatly aided the public’s grasp of the case and its significance. Apple’s investigation into its search engine options sheds light on the state of the tech industry and the prospects for search engine rivalry in the future.

See first source: Search Engine Journal


What has been revealed about Apple’s consideration of alternative search engines like Bing and DuckDuckGo in the Google antitrust case?

Court testimonies have uncovered that Apple engaged in discussions with Microsoft about potentially acquiring Bing or forming a joint venture. Additionally, Apple explored the possibility of using DuckDuckGo as the default search engine for Safari’s private browsing mode.

Why did Apple consider Bing as an alternative to Google for its devices?

Apple considered Bing as an alternative to Google due to discussions about the quality of Bing’s search results. While Bing’s overall performance fell short of Google’s, it achieved parity in desktop English searches. Apple had previously used Bing as the default search service for specific products from 2013 to 2017.

Why did Apple ultimately decide to continue its partnership with Google?

Apple decided to maintain its existing partnership with Google, which generates substantial annual revenue, estimated at around $19 billion. Internal emails suggested that discussions with Bing may have been used as a negotiation tactic to secure more favorable terms from Google.

What was the nature of Apple’s discussions with DuckDuckGo, and why was DuckDuckGo considered as an alternative?

Apple engaged in talks with DuckDuckGo to explore making it the default search engine for Safari’s private browsing mode. DuckDuckGo is known for its privacy-focused approach, which aligns with Apple’s values. However, Apple had reservations about DuckDuckGo’s reliance on Bing for search results and concerns about the quality and reliability of those results.

What insights do these revelations provide into the tech industry’s strategy and competition dynamics?

These testimonies offer a rare glimpse into the strategic considerations and negotiations within the tech industry, particularly regarding search engine partnerships. They highlight the complexity of competing with Google’s dominance and the challenges faced by companies seeking alternatives.

How does the release of these testimonies impact the ongoing Google antitrust case?

The unsealing of these testimonies provides greater transparency and insight into the Google antitrust case. It addresses concerns about the lack of public visibility and allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the case’s implications for the tech industry and search engine competition.

What is the significance of the Google antitrust case, and why is it the first of its kind in over two decades?

The Google antitrust case is significant because it represents the first major antitrust case against a major tech company in more than two decades. It sheds light on the workings of the search industry and its impact on competition, prompting scrutiny of the tech industry’s dominance and practices.


Featured Image Credit: Sumudu Mohottige; Unsplash – Thank you!

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