updated 05:30 pm EDT, Wed September 21, 2011
Google attorney uncertain on Apple search terms
Google's representing attorney Susan Creighton in a follow-up Senate hearing was unclear on the financial incentives Google might have given Apple to become the default search engine on the iPhone. Following earlier testimony by Eric Schmidt, she acknowledged that Google had made a deal with Apple but that she 'didn't know' if it involved paying Apple to choose one over the other. She admitted that it "wouldn't surprise" her if cash had traded hands.
As a defense, she emphasized that the deal was for the default engine, not the exclusive. It would take "20 seconds" to either download an app or change the default, Creighton said. iPhone users from the start have had the option of picking Yahoo and later Bing.
The lawyer argued that it was in Google's best interests to let Apple have its choice of search engines, since it led to the best result for the user.
"We want Apple to have companies like [Microsoft's] Bing competing for the search engine," Creighton explained. "When you have that contestable market, you have a stand-in for consumers... Apple isn't going to take the worst search engine."
It's rumored, though not confirmed, that Apple was given a cash incentive to pick Google. Its soon-to-be rival in the mobile field may have offered a revenue split for search ads that could be worth $100 million or more a year. Whether or not Microsoft and Yahoo offered similar deals isn't known.
Senate hearings over Google's position were triggered in part because of its control of mobile search. While it has about two thirds of all searches, that share is estimated to climb as high as 97 percent in mobile, where Android and iOS are the primary choices for smartphones and use Google as a matter of course. Exceptions exist like Windows Phone and Microsoft's deal for Bing on the BlackBerry but are rare. Both US politicians and Korea have also been worried that Google might block deals under certain conditions.