UK regulators question Google's default search engine payments to Apple

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What you need to know

  • UK regulators have questioned Google's payments to Apple.
  • It gave Apple $1.5 billion in 2019 to be the default search engine on UK devices.
  • Regulators say this creates a "significant" barrier to the competition.

UK market regulators have questioned Google's payments made to Apple so it could be the default search engine on devices in the UK, stating they create a significant barrier to competition.

As Reuters reports:

The payments by Alphabet Inc's Google to Apple Inc to be the default search engine on Apple's Safari web browser create "a significant barrier to entry and expansion" for Google's rivals in the search engine market, the UK markets regulator said in a report released on Wednesday.

According to the report, Apple received a "substantial majority" of the $1.5 billion Google paid to be the default search engine on devices in the UK in 2019. The UK Competition and Markets Authority has released a report which says that this arrangement creates "a significant barrier to entry and expansion" for search engine rivals like Yahoo and DuckDuckGo.

The report states:

Given the impact of preinstallations and defaults on mobile devices and Apple's significant market share, it is our view that Apple's existing arrangements with Google create a significant barrier to entry and expansion for rivals affecting competition between search engines on mobiles

Globally, it is estimated that Apple pulls about $9 billion a year from such arrangements, 80% of which comes from Google. The report states that enforcement authorities should be given a range of options to rectify the arrangement, including choice screens where users can decide which search engine they want to use during device setup. Apple reportedly told the report that monetization restrictions would be "very costly."

With the release of iSO 14, Apple will give users the options to at least change their default browser and email apps, no mention was made of other services like search engines or music playback.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9