Apple received a whopping $20 billion to make Google the default iPhone search engine in 2022, damning antitrust documents prove

Search in Safari on an iPhone
(Image credit: Future)

It's been confirmed that Alphabet, Google's parent company, paid Apple a cool $20 billion in 2022 to ensure that its search engine was the default option in the Safari web browser. The news comes after court documents in the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against Google were unsealed.

The information is key for those who argue that Google's position in the market prevents others from being able to compete, and both Google and Apple had hoped that the $20 billion figure would not be made public knowledge.

Apple had already confirmed that Google paid it billions of dollars but refused to specify a number, although Google had said that the company pays 36% of the revenue it earns from its search ads to Apple, a figure that suggested a considerable amount of money was changing hands.

The default option

The court document disclosure was first reported by Bloomberg and will come as a blow to Google's legal team, but also Apple's executives. The documents mean that we also know how vital Google's payments are to Apple — Bloomberg notes that the payments in 2020 accounted for 17.5% of Apple's operating income alone.

Google and Apple have been working together to make Google the default search engine since 2002, but having initially agreed to a deal in which no money changed hands, an ad revenue-sharing system was devised. However, Google isn't the only company that wants its search engine to be the go-to for iPhone owners. Microsoft has been trying to get Bing into the hearts and minds of Apple users for some time, and a Microsoft exec even went so far as to say Apple is the reason Google is beating Bing in popularity.

There have also been rumors of Apple's one-time intention to buy Bing, but a deal was never struck in part due to the revenue Google was already providing Apple. It was decided that losing that revenue simply wasn't worth the benefit of owning a search engine.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.