UK Regulators Call Google's Search Engine Deal With Apple a 'Significant Barrier' for Competitors

Google pays Apple to be the default search engine on Apple's Safari web browser on iPhones and Macs, which causes a "significant barrier to entry and expansion" for rivals in the search engine market, said the UK Competition and Markets Authority in a report released today (via Reuters).


The relationship between Apple and Google impacts Microsoft's Bing, Verizon's Yahoo, and independent search engine DuckDuckGo. Apple allows users to set these search engines as their default in the Safari settings, a privilege the search engines pay for, but Google Search remains the default on a new device.

Apple received the "substantial majority" of the $1.5 billion (1.2 billion pounds) that Google paid to be the default search engine on various devices in the United Kingdom in 2019, according to the report.

"Given the impact of preinstallations and defaults on mobile devices and Apple's significant market share, it is our view that Apple's existing arrangements with Google create a significant barrier to entry and expansion for rivals affecting competition between search engines on mobiles," the regulators wrote in the report.

UK regulators believe that enforcement authorities should be provided with a range of options to address the arrangement between Apple and Google to provide a more level playing field for other search engines.

Apple could be required to provide "choice screens" that would let users decide which search engine to set as default during device setup, or could be restricted from monetizing default search engine positions, a move that Apple said would be "very costly."

Apple and Google have never confirmed exactly how much Google pays to be the default search engine on Apple devices in the UK, the United States, and other countries, but it's rumored to be in the billions.

Tags: Google, Safari

Top Rated Comments

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6 weeks ago
Honestly, I get so tired of seeing these kind of issues popping up all the time. I don't want to get a new iPhone and have to spend an hour choosing default apps for every single thing the phone can do, its just stupid. Apple gives people the choice to customise these things after initial setup, and in iOS 14 is giving even more choice.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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6 weeks ago
This makes no sense. If apple received no money but did not offer a choice, it would still affect competing Search engines the same way. So why does apple making money off it matter?
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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6 weeks ago
Hilarious. The user can already change the default search engine at will. What should Apple do to reduce this supposed barrier? Ask the user every day which search engine they prefer?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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6 weeks ago
Won't someone think about the search engines?????? /s
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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6 weeks ago
Breaking News! Company that spends more money acquiring customers has more customers than companies that spend less!
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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6 weeks ago


It is not offering the choice that is the issue:

“Given the impact of preinstallations and defaults on mobile devices and Apple’s significant market share, it is our view that Apple’s existing arrangements with Google create a significant barrier to entry and expansion for rivals affecting competition between search engines on mobiles,” the regulators wrote in the report.

Yes it is. They say they either want apple to offer a choice screen, or they want apple to not be paid by google, or both.

My point is that not being paid by google does not solve the problem (if there is a problem) because if apple just continues to make google the default search engine, that doesn’t help any competitors.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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