The Justice Department has finally taken the final step of charging Google with illegally protecting its monopoly over search and search advertising by locking up deals with partners like Apple and by using exclusive business contracts and agreements to throttle competition.
Google has protested its innocence, claiming people use Google because they love it, not because they are forced to. They claimed the lawsuit would simply “artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use.”
They claimed their deals (with Apple for being the default search engine on Safari for example) was merely for visibility and did not exclude competitors.
They also say on the desktop they have no default position at all, with that being held by Bing in Edge.
Of course, most search is done on mobile these days and Google admitted to promotional agreements with carriers and device makers to feature Google services. They say these deals allow them to distribute Android for free and thereby reduced the price of phones.
Their biggest argument was that users could easily switch and that users were sophisticated enough to do so, and that they did when given the choice, usually switching to Google.
They also denied being a search monopoly, claiming Kayak and Twitter were major competitors. That is of course laughable, but they do note most (60%) of people go directly to Amazon to search for a product, which is undeniable.
We understand that with our success comes scrutiny, but we stand by our position. American antitrust law is designed to promote innovation and help consumers, not tilt the playing field in favor of particular competitors or make it harder for people to get the services they want. We’re confident that a court will conclude that this suit doesn’t square with either the facts or the law.
In the meantime, we remain absolutely focused on delivering the free services that help Americans every day. Because that’s what matters most.
There is, of course, one simple argument against Google’ defence – if consumers were so savvy and love Google so much, why do they pay Apple $7 billion each year to be their default search engine? Could it be that if they did not, it would erode their market share?
Read Google’s full defence here.