Apple Subpoenaed for Details on iOS Search Deal in Google Antitrust Investigation

googlelogoBloomberg reports that antitrust investigators with the Federal Trade Commission have issued a subpoena to Apple requesting information on the company's deal to make Google the default search engine on iOS. Google has been reported to have paid Apple $1 billion last year in the iOS search deal, and the subpoena is part of an ongoing antitrust investigation of Google over its actions to lock up search engine traffic.

The agency’s request for documents includes the agreements that made Google the preferred search engine on Apple’s mobile devices, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly and declined to be identified. Google rivals such as Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) have criticized these agreements as anticompetitive.

The subpoena indicates the FTC is intensifying its scrutiny of Google’s business practices. Details of the Apple-Google relationship may show whether Google is abusing its dominance of Internet search to boost revenue in the mobile phone advertising market, said Allen Grunes, an antitrust lawyer at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP in Washington.

The investigation is also looking more broadly at how Google's advertising rates and search results may be being manipulated to give Google an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

With Android and iOS now together holding the vast majority of smartphone market share, Google's search engine possesses a dominating position in the rapidly-growing mobile search space. With mobile search expected to pass desktop search within the next few years, Google's dominance and its tie-ins to its own advertising services are garnering significant attention from regulators.

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Top Rated Comments

camnchar Avatar
160 months ago
Yeah, how about a legal.macrumors.com subdomain or at least a separate blog for the legal stuff?
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
coolfactor Avatar
160 months ago
Google is easy to use, but it's not the best search engine anymore. The algorithm worked for many years when the internet was "young." Someone needs to step up and come up with a new method. Now when I type in Rick Santorum, well you get the idea. It's flawed, it's vanilla, homogenous, easily tricked, and focused on 24 year old geeks results. Just like their demographic for Google+.

I'm not following. How could the results (for "Rick Santorum") be improved? Can you elaborate? While I think Google's array of "services" needs to be scrutinized, I am fairly confident in their search algorithms, but I'm open to being educated. :)
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mad-B-One Avatar
160 months ago
Just wait a sec...

...I have to google the background to that story real quick! :D

I have an alternative explanation for their dominance: Ease of use! Ever looked at the competition? Their start page is cluttered most of the time and you have it harder to destinguish between search results and advertisement. Regardless how much you like or hate Google, you got to admit, it is easy to see what is an add and where do the results show. The manipulation of results is another problem. There might be some undue manipulation going on. Dominance though - that is totally a result of the inability of the competition to keep it simple and to the point.

Just a little disclaimer: I did not just compare all search engines, but I've been around for a while and seen how Lycos, Ask.com, Yahoo, MSN, etc try to cause me eye cancer with a color bombardement as soon as I try to look something up.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bbeagle Avatar
160 months ago
I don't see why Apple should be fined for setting Google's search engine as their default. As long as the choice (uh-oh! theres that word again in apple-land) is there to switch to a different one, does it matter?
This is not the issue. The issue is whether Google gave kick-backs to Apple for using their search engine as the default.

Google is the one that would be in trouble, not Apple.

Remember back in the 90's when Microsoft got in legal trouble for using Internet Explorer as the default browser for Windows? Sort of the same issue here - just that Microsoft made both Windows AND Internet Explorer.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WardC Avatar
160 months ago
I have been on the Internet since 1995, since I was a teenager...

In the early days, there were several major search engines, none of which were perfect or gave relevant, properly weighted results. Sometimes you would have to use several search engines together to get the information you were looking for....

Those that I remember most:

• Yahoo
• Altavista (altavista.digital.com)
• Lycos
• Hotbot
• WebCrawler
• Excite

I went to San Francisco in 2000 for the Macworld Expo Conference. The morning of the keynote address, when I was in line waiting to enter the Moscone Center, this guy comes up to me, passing out flyers....he says: "Hey, we have this new start-up, we're a search engine and we're called Google, you should check us out!" This was the first time I had ever heard of Google -- January 5th, 2000. So then I checked out Google later that day and started using it. I was absolutely amazed at the accuracy, relevance, speed, and number of useful/valid results I was getting from this search engine -- Google. I started using Google as my default search engine from that point forward, and have not looked back. I was using this even before Apple put it as the default browser in Safari, or even before Safari was released, for that matter -- I was using Google with Mac OS 9.

All I can say about this, is that Google is the best, fastest, and largest search engine in the world...the database and the algorithms are still better than anything out there. The servers and network that power Google can handle the traffic and never choke up. They sort of do have a 'monopoly' in the search-engine world, but couldn't you say the same thing about Apple and the tablet market? Not one company makes a competitive product to the iPad, and nobody makes a search engine quite like Google. I don't see many people complaining about Google's search engine, because it serves it's purpose, and does a good job at it.

Apple may have "asked" for money from Google as part of the agreement, to allow Google to be featured as the default web browser option on iOS and Apple products (Safari). It is a two way street, Google may have offered, or Apple may have asked...anyhow both parties agreed on a deal and it was done.

Capatalism is a laissez-faire type of affair...a true free market should not be thwarted by a non-capatalistic regulatory system.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HelveticaRoman Avatar
160 months ago
Yeah, how about a legal.macrumors.com subdomain or at least a separate blog for the legal stuff?

When was the last rumour involving a Mac even?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)