Google Wanted iPhones to Come Pre-Installed With Google Search App
Back in 2018, Google CEO Sundar Pichai asked Apple CEO Tim Cook to ship iPhones with the Google Search app pre-installed, but Cook did not ultimately go for the idea. The information comes from the ongoing antitrust lawsuit that Google is facing from the U.S. Department of Justice, and it was shared by The Verge.
Pichai proposed the idea to Cook after Cook said that he wanted Apple to be "deep, deep partners" with Google. He told Cook that pre-installing the Google Search app would drive more traffic to Google, and therefore more money to Apple. Apple and Google have long had a search engine deal, with Google paying $18 to $20 billion per year to be the default search engine on Apple devices, but in 2018, Apple's share of revenue was down.
As a result, Pichai said that Cook should consider allowing Google to design an app or some other native iPhone experience that would drive people to use Google search more often. "We said one of the things that works well on Android, which drives increased usage, is a Google Search application. So I proposed that we could build a Google search application for iOS... and we would be committed to supporting the product for many years," said Pichai.
While Apple iPhones come with a number of Apple-created apps installed, Apple has never offered a pre-loaded third-party app, which is likely why the company did not accept Pichai's proposal.
According to Pichai, he meets with Cook approximately once per year in order to discuss Google's search deal with Apple, which has been a major focus of the antitrust trial against Google. The U.S. Department of Justice believes that Google has a search monopoly that has turned it into the "gatekeeper of the internet," and the government is targeting some of the "exclusionary agreements" that Google has established with companies like Apple.
Apple services chief Eddy Cue testified in the trial in September, and he said that Apple uses Google as the default option because the company has "always thought it was the best" and because there is no "valid alternative."
Right now, Google is the default search engine option on all of Apple's devices. While the search engine can be changed on Apple products, many customers do not opt to choose one of the other options, which include Bing, Ecosia, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo. If the lawsuit determines that Google has engaged in antitrust activities, the deal between Apple and Google could be broken up, requiring Apple to provide additional search engine options during the Apple device setup process.