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Google CEO Sundar Pichai Faces Intense Antitrust Grilling in US

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, was grilled by a US antitrust lawyer as he defended Google against claims of criminal behaviour.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai faced rigorous questioning from a US antitrust lawyer as he defended Google against allegations of illegal actions to preserve the dominance of its leading search engine.

Key Focus: Revenue Sharing Deals with Apple:

The core of the US Department of Justice’s case against Google revolves around the company’s substantial revenue-sharing agreements. 

These deals involve Apple, the iPhone maker, taking a significant portion of Google’s ad revenue in exchange for being the default search engine on Apple devices.

$26 Billion Paid to Apple in 2022 Alone:

Revelations during the testimony revealed that Google paid a staggering $26 billion in a single year to maintain its status as the default search engine on various smartphones and web browsers, with the majority of these payments going to Apple.

Pichai’s Defense of Google’s Mission:

Sundar Pichai began his testimony by emphasizing Google’s mission of making data “universally accessible and useful” to all. 

He stressed the continued relevance of this mission in the face of new competitors in the search industry and advancements in artificial intelligence.

During the two-hour questioning, US government lawyers sought to challenge Google’s mission statement. 

They presented internal communications, including emails, chats, and letters from as far back as two decades ago, to demonstrate the existential importance of Google’s default arrangement with Apple to its business.

Exposing Concerns and Competition:

One tense exchange revolved around an internal memo expressing Google’s concern that Apple’s Siri was impacting some searches on Apple devices. 

Pichai discussed this issue with Apple CEO Tim Cook and suggested it could explain Apple’s lower-than-expected revenue from Google searches in the previous year. 

A memo summarizing a high-level meeting in 2018 emphasized the two tech giant’s vision of working as “one company” regarding search.

Chats and Data Deletion Requests:

Pichai was also questioned about company chats, where he requested that the conversation be switched to “history off,” which would result in automatic content deletion after 24 hours. 

US government lawyers expressed concerns that Pichai may have attempted to prevent incriminating conversations from being used as evidence.

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