Apple sees no 'valid alternative' to Google as iPhone's default search option

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

Google has long been the default search engine on the iPhone and it's a deal that involves Google paying Apple a lot of money. It's also a deal that continues to come under scrutiny, and this time Apple VP Eddy Cue found himself in court to defend it.

Cue was in court as a witness in the US v. Google antitrust trial over the company's search business. And he was there so that the court could try and decide whether Google earned its spot as the default, or if it's just a mere business decision.

For his part, Cue seemingly stuck up for Google, saying that there "wasn't a valid alternative to Google at the time" he struck a deal with Google CEO Sundar Pichai in 2016. That deal was a reworking of one that was originally signed back in 2002.

There still isn't one

The Verge, reporting on Cue's appearance, says that he went on to add that he doesn't believe there is a valid alternative to Google even today. Cue's comments are clearly what Google wanted to hear, with the insinuation being that Apple chose Google as the default because it was the best search engine at the time of the decision — and not just because it gets paid every time Google makes money off an iPhone user's search usage.

"That question — whether Apple picked Google because it’s the most lucrative choice or the best product — was a key part of Cue’s testimony and, in fact, a key part of the DOJ’s entire case against Google," The Verge points out. "The Justice Department is focused on the deals Google makes — with Apple but also with Samsung and Mozilla and many others — to ensure it is the default search engine on practically every platform."

Cue went on to say that Apple wants to "get people up and running as fast as possible" when they buy new iPhones, like the new iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro. He says that offering people the chance to choose a new default search engine during the setup process isn't something he'd want to do because that process "is just the critical stuff."

In the case of this antitrust trial, it's probably fair to say that search is pretty critical indeed.

The trial, as they say, continues.

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.

  • FFR
    No valid alternative that would pay Apple $19.3 billion per annum or a total of 120 billion since 2010.

    To put that into perspective, it’s a third of googles annual net income or a more than 60% of Microsoft’s total annual ad revenue per year.

  • Lee_Bo
    DDG for the win!