Google CEO grilled in US antitrust trial

Philippine Tribune
Philippine Tribune

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Google Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sundar Pichai faced a fierce grilling from a US antitrust lawyer on Monday as he pushed back against accusations that his company acted illegally to preserve the dominance of its world-leading search engine.

At the heart of the case by the US Department of Justice is Google’s massive revenue sharing deals in which iPhone maker Apple takes a big cut of Google ad revenue made from being the default search engine on Apple devices.

PUSHING BACK Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai departs federal court on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, in Washington, D.C. Pichai on Monday defended his company in the largest antitrust case since the 1990s as the US government tries to prove that Alphabet’s Google Inc. is illegally monopolizing the online search business. AFP PHOTO

PUSHING BACK Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai departs federal court on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, in Washington, D.C. Pichai on Monday defended his company in the largest antitrust case since the 1990s as the US government tries to prove that Alphabet’s Google Inc. is illegally monopolizing the online search business. AFP PHOTO

Testimony has revealed that Google last year alone paid out $26 billion to remain the default search engine on various smartphones and browsers, most of which went to Apple.

Pichai began his testimony in the Washington courtroom by repeating the company’s mission of making information “universally accessible and useful” to all.

“The mission is more timeless and relevant than ever before,” Pichai said, given new competitors for search and the advances in artificial intelligence.

Get the latest news

delivered to your inbox

Sign up for The Manila Times newsletters

By signing up with an email address, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

But in two hours of questioning, US government lawyers tried to pick apart that claim.

Using company emails, chats and letters that were sometimes two decades old, the government pushed Pichai to admit that Google’s default arrangement with Apple was existential to its business.

In one tense back and forth, Pichai was presented with an internal memo in which Google expressed concern that some searches on Apple devices were being “cannibalized” by the iPhone’s Siri.

In 2019, Pichai explained to Apple CEO Tim Cook that this could explain Apple’s less-than-expected revenue from Google searches the previous year and could be fixed.

“Our vision is that we work as one company” when it comes to search, a Google memo said, summarizing another high level meeting between the two companies in 2018.

When shown the internal memo, Pichai insisted that the two tech giants “fiercely compete on so many products,” while adding that “there was maybe some irrational exuberance on how well the meeting went.”

Pichai was also needled about company chats where he asked that the conversation be switched to “history off” so that the content would be automatically deleted after 24 hours.

The use of the function has raised suspicion among the US government lawyers that Pichai had attempted to prevent incriminating conversations from being brought into evidence.

TAGGED:
Leave a comment