What just happened? Documents released by the US Department of Justice have revealed that senior Apple executives once blasted Android as a "massive tracking device." The disclosure was part of the ongoing Google antitrust trial, which centers around the company's dominant position in search, and how it's retained such a massive market share despite the presence of Bing, DuckDuckGo, and other prominent competitors.
The allegation against Android was reportedly part of a presentation slide sent by Apple executive Eddy Cue to the company's CEO, Tim Cook, in 2013, and seems to show the disdain that many Apple executives have for its only competitor in the mobile space. Other slides shown during the trial quote then-Google CEO Eric Schmidt admitting that Google hasn't always respected user privacy the way it should. According to one statement attributed to Schmidt, Google's policy is to "get right up to the creepy line but not cross it."
Most of the other juicy bits were redacted before the documents were released for public consumption, but they also alluded to Facebook's tracking of users even if they opt out, and Google's Street View's recordings of private Wi-Fi communications. Some of the other slides contrasted these behaviors to Apple's own approach to privacy, which includes keeping Siri and Apple Maps ad-free to safeguard user data.
However, for all the shade Apple threw at Google, it remains the default search engine on the Safari browser on all Apple platforms, including the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Google will to pay Apple around $19 billion this year alone to remain the default search choice on its devices. Eddy Cue testified during the trial that the company favors Google as the default search option because "we've always thought it was the best."
During the trial, it's been revealed more information about how much Google pays to other tech companies to retain its mammoth market share. Last month, Google's Senior VP of search, Prabhakar Raghavan, admitted that the search giant paid some $26 billion in 2021 to be the default search engine on various mobile phones and web browsers.
Some of the beneficiaries of Google's payments include device manufacturers like Apple, LG, Motorola, and Samsung, carriers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, and browser developers like Mozilla, Opera, and UCWeb. However, Google denies that these payments are meant to prevent users from changing the default search option on any device or app. Their take is that people can easily set their own preferred search provider with a few clicks on every platform.