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

(View all)
Avatar
17 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)
Avatar
17 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)
Avatar
17 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)
Avatar
17 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)
Avatar
17 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)
Avatar
17 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

iOS 14 Widgets Offer iPhone Users Creative Home Screen Ideas

Sunday September 20, 2020 8:43 pm PDT by
Updated on September 22nd with hands on video. In iOS 14, Apple introduced ‌the concept of Home Screen‌ widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. Widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. Despite the relative lack of...

iPhone 12 Lineup Rumored to Be Named 'iPhone 12 mini,' 'iPhone 12,' 'iPhone 12 Pro,' and 'iPhone 12 Pro Max'

Monday September 21, 2020 5:24 am PDT by
Leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today shared the alleged naming for the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup on Twitter. The tweet proposes that the upcoming iPhone 12 models will be titled "iPhone 12 mini," "iPhone 12," "iPhone 12 Pro," and "iPhone 12 Pro Max." The names likely correspond to the three expected sizes of iPhone 12, with the 5.4-inch model being the iPhone 12 mini, the 6.7-inch model ...

PSA: New Apple Watch Owners Have to Return Entire Device for Ill-Fitting Solo Loop or Braided Solo Loop

Monday September 21, 2020 3:26 pm PDT by
With the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple introduced two new band options, the Solo Loop and the Braided Solo Loop. These new bands are unique because they have no clasps, buckles, or other fasteners, and instead use a stretch design to allow them to pull onto the wrist over the hand. Because these bands are not adjustable, Apple sells each one in nine different sizes to make sure each person...

Apple Releases First Public Betas of iOS 14.2 and iPadOS 14.2 With New Shazam Control Center Options

Monday September 21, 2020 10:34 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the first public betas of upcoming iOS 14.2 and iPadOS 14.2 updates to its public beta testing group, a few days after seeding the first betas to developers and a little less than a week after releasing the iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 updates. Public beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing program can download the iOS and iPadOS‌ 14.2 updates over the air after ...

Kuo: Apple to Accelerate Adoption of Mini-LED Displays in iPad and Mac Notebook Lineups

Sunday September 20, 2020 10:00 pm PDT by
Increased competition among Apple's suppliers for mini-LED display chips will accelerate the company's adoption of the advanced technology in its iPad and MacBook lineups, according to a new research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo seen by MacRumors. Kuo says that while Epistar had been predicted to be the exclusive supplier of mini-LED chips for Apple products in 2021, Sanan Optoelectronics...

AirPods Studio Rumored to Come With U1 Chip, Ultra-Wideband Said to Be Vital to Future Apple Ecosystem

Sunday September 20, 2020 6:17 am PDT by
Proven leaker known as "L0vetodream" has today shared a range of information about the ultra-wideband U1 chip in Apple's upcoming AirTags item trackers and AirPods Studio headphones. The first of a series of tweets shared today simply stated that AirPods Studio will contain an ultra-wideband U1 chip. It seems likely that the U1 chip would be used in AirPods Studio to track the location of...

AT&T Already Working on 6G, Says 5G iPhones Might Not Be 'Massive Event' Due to Economic Uncertainty

Monday September 21, 2020 10:05 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming launch of 5G iPhones might not be a "massive event" due to economic uncertainty amid the global health crisis, AT&T Communications CEO Jeff McElfresh said in a paywalled interview published by CNBC. "I do believe that you will see many of the iPhone subscribers move to upgrade to the device," said McElfresh. "But I wouldn't forecast that it's going to be a massive event. I...

Microsoft Announces Outlook for Mac Redesign, Improvements to iOS and watchOS Apps

Tuesday September 22, 2020 8:56 am PDT by
Microsoft has today announced plans to bring a new design to its Outlook for Mac app along with several other improvements and features for Outlook on iOS and watchOS. In preparation for the public release of macOS Big Sur, Microsoft has been testing a new design for Outlook on Mac. The design includes Microsoft's Fluent icons and several design cues from Big Sur such as rounded corners....

iOS 14 Adoption Surpasses 25% Across iPhone and iPad Five Days After Release

Monday September 21, 2020 9:06 am PDT by
Five days after Apple released iOS 14, adoption of the software update has reached approximately 26 percent of active iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices, according to mobile analytics company Mixpanel. This includes iPadOS 14. iOS 14 adoption appears to be outpacing iOS 13, which was installed on approximately 20 percent of active devices one week after its release last year, according to...

When Will the iPhone 12 Launch? Here's What We Know

Wednesday September 16, 2020 6:12 am PDT by
Yesterday's "Time Flies" Apple event saw the release of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, iPad 8, and iPad Air 4, but no new iPhone models. Rumors before the event strongly alleged that it would not see the unveiling of new iPhones, with many reports pointing to an October launch. The lack of new iPhone models yesterday seems to confirm that the iPhone 12 lineup will not appear...