Apple's Search Engine Negotiations With Google Took Months of Near-Daily Meetings

Establishing a billion dollar search engine deal with Google took Apple more than four months, according to new details shared today by former Apple lawyer Bruce Sewell.

Sewell recently did an interview with a Columbia law student, which was noticed this afternoon by CNBC, and in the interview, he shared details on his time at Apple and some of the negotiations he handled for the company.


According to Sewell, he attended near daily meetings with Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Google lawyer Kent Walker when hammering out a deal, working alongside Tim Cook or Eddy Cue.

And then with myself and either Tim [Cook] or Eddy Cue who was my counterpart on that deal. They'd be at Google or we'd be at Apple almost every day, it's just one example there are a lot of those kinds of negotiations or lawsuits that just completely suck up all your time.

Sewell did not go into detail about the amount of money that Google pays Apple to be the primary search engine on Apple devices, but in the past, Google has been rumored to be paying billions for the privilege.

Sewell says that in his time at Apple, he had 900 people working under him. 600 of those were in the law group and included lawyers and paralegals.

In just one of the Samsung lawsuits, Apple had 350 people billing time on that case at any given moment, most of which were outside counsel because it's impossible for Apple to handle cases of that magnitude with an internal team. "And this was just one of them. There were seven of them going on," said Sewell.

There were seven or eight billion documents to review, and collectively, law firms billed Apple 280,000 hours. Sewell says his budget was "just shy of a billion dollars a year."

Sewell says that he steered Apple in the wrong direction on its iBooks negotiations, leading to the ‌iBooks‌ snafu with the U.S. government that cost Apple a lot of money because he didn't know about deals publishers made among themselves. Cook, though, was forgiving and said he'd made the right choices.

But that was an example of sailing as close to the wind because it was so important to Apple. But in the end, I got it wrong and Apple ended up having to pay a large fine. The reaction from Tim was "That's the right choice. You made the best choice that you could with the information you had. You didn't know about these other things. Don't let that scare you. I don't want you to stop pushing the envelope because that's why legal is an important function at the company."

During the interview, Sewell also shared a few tidbits about Apple CEO ‌Tim Cook‌, who he said would send him emails in the very early morning due to Cook's "crazy" work schedule.

From 4:00 a.m. to 5 a.m., there's a there's a lot of activity, so my first thing when I got up around 6:30 a.m. would be to check my email and see all the stuff that Tim had left for me, the little cookies he's left for me.

Sewell had other thoughts to share on working as a traditional lawyer vs. working for a major company as legal counsel, and his shift from Intel to Apple, which he likened to going to kindergarten from university given Apple's focus on creativity. The full interview can be watched in the video up above.

From 2009 to 2017, Bruce Sewell served as Apple's general counsel before retiring at the end of 2017. Sewell has since been replaced by Katherine Adams.

Top Rated Comments

Baymowe335 Avatar
30 months ago
$1 billion: the price for Apple to abandon its stated goal of protecting its users’ privacy.
This is a nonsense statement.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mac-lover3 Avatar
30 months ago
I can't blame Apple. Google is still the best search engine available. I'm using DuckDuckGo now most of the time but it still has its short comings.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Doctor Q Avatar
30 months ago
... I got it wrong and Apple ended up having to pay a large fine. The reaction from Tim was "That's the right choice. You made the best choice that you could with the information you had. ...
I find this to be the most interesting comment. A lot of CEOs would have had his head on a stick.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JGIGS Avatar
30 months ago
$1 billion: the price for Apple to abandon its stated goal of promoting user privacy.

EDIT: changed “protecting” to “promoting”
This is a nonsense statement.
How is it a nonsense statement when everyone in here complains how Google gives away your data and won't use their services/apps?

You can't have it both ways. Google can't be evil privacy breakers while Apple uses them as the default browser and are the masters of keeping your info private.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
autrefois Avatar
30 months ago
Establishing a billion dollar search engine deal with Google
$1 billion: the price for Apple to abandon its stated goal of promoting user privacy.

EDIT: changed “protecting” to “promoting”
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Westside guy Avatar
30 months ago

From 4:00 a.m. to 5 a.m., there's a there's a lot of activity, so my first thing when I got up around 6:30 a.m. would be to check my email and see all the stuff that Tim had left for me, the little cookies he's left for me.
Hmm, for Sewell’s browser?? :p
Little known fact: Part of Cook's "crazy work schedule" involves overnight baking binges followed by sneaking into senior executives' houses to leave baked goods on the kitchen counter.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iphone 12 colors 2021

iPhone 12 Colors: Deciding on The Right Color

Thursday November 5, 2020 8:35 am PST by
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived last October in a range of color options, with entirely new hues available on both devices, as well as some popular classics. The 12 and 12 Pro have different color choices, so if you have your heart set on a particular shade, you might not be able to get your preferred model in that color. iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Full iPhone 13 Feature Breakdown: Everything Rumors Say We Can Expect

Tuesday August 31, 2021 7:50 am PDT by
With the launch of Apple's iPhone 13 lineup believed to be just a few weeks away, we have compiled all of the coherent rumors from our coverage over the past year to build a full picture of the features and upgrades coming to the company's new smartphones. For clarity, only explicit improvements, upgrades, and new features compared to the iPhone 12 lineup are listed. It is worth noting that...
original iphone

Phil Schiller Says iPhone Was 'Earth-Shattering' Ten Years Ago and Remains 'Unmatched' Today

Monday January 9, 2017 7:15 am PST by
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down with tech journalist Steven Levy for a wide-ranging interview about the smartphone's past, present, and future. The report first reflects upon the iPhone's lack of support for third-party apps in its first year. The argument inside Apple was split between whether the iPhone should be a closed...
macbook air deals

Deals: Amazon Drops Price of 256GB M1 MacBook Air to New Low of $849.99 ($149 Off)

Friday August 27, 2021 6:16 am PDT by
Amazon today introduced new low prices on the M1 MacBook Air for both 256GB and 512GB storage options. To start, you can get the 256GB model for $849.99, down from an original price of $999.00. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. Only Silver and Gold are...
iCloud General Feature

iCloud+'s New Custom Email Domain Feature Now Available in Beta

Wednesday August 25, 2021 7:48 am PDT by
Starting with iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey, users with a paid iCloud+ storage plan can personalize their iCloud email address with a custom domain name, such as johnny@appleseed.com, and the feature is now available in beta. iCloud+ subscribers interested in setting up a custom email domain can visit the beta.icloud.com website, select "Account Settings" under their name, and select ...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

Sunday August 29, 2021 7:39 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant...
maxresdefault

New MacBook Pro Models Coming at WWDC, Suggests Leaker

Monday May 24, 2021 1:27 pm PDT by
New MacBook Pro models are coming at WWDC, according to leaker Jon Prosser who has a mixed track record when it comes to predicting Apple's plans. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Prosser provided no additional information, but there are new 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models in the works. The new MacBook Pros will feature the most radical redesign to the MacBook Pro ...
omg lightning cable comparison

Security Researcher Develops Lightning Cable With Hidden Chip to Steal Passwords

Thursday September 2, 2021 6:59 am PDT by
A normal-looking Lightning cable that can used to steal data like passwords and send it to a hacker has been developed, Vice reports. The "OMG Cable" compared to Apple's Lightning to USB cable. The "OMG Cable" works exactly like a normal Lightning to USB cable and can log keystrokes from connected Mac keyboards, iPads, and iPhones, and then send this data to a bad actor who could be over a...
ted lasso notchless phone

No, That Notchless iPhone Spotted in 'Ted Lasso' Isn't the iPhone 13

Tuesday August 31, 2021 2:15 am PDT by
Recent sightings of a notchless iPhone in highly popular Apple TV+ comedy "Ted Lasso" have led to sensational headlines suggesting this is a canny bit of product placement on Apple's part and that the iPhone 13 will be notchless. In actuality – and this could go without saying – the phone in question is very likely just showing a poorly superimposed display added in post-production. Notchless ...
calculatorapp

iOS 11 Bug: Typing 1+2+3 Quickly in the Calculator App Won't Get You 6

Tuesday October 24, 2017 2:03 pm PDT by
A bug in the built-in Calculator app in iOS 11 is getting some major attention this week, despite the fact that it's been around since iOS 11 was in beta testing. At issue is a calculator animation that causes some symbols to be ignored when calculations are entered in rapid succession. You can try it for yourself: Type 1+2+3 and then the equals sign into the Calculator app quickly. Due to...