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Antitrust Battle Looms Over Apple’s Lucrative Safari Deal with Google

 |  July 7, 2024

Apple’s contract with Google has emerged as a focal point in an ongoing antitrust debate. The arrangement, which designates Google’s search engine as the default on Apple’s Safari browser, yielded Apple over $20 billion in 2022 alone, according to court documents. This figure represents 36 percent of the ad revenue generated by searches conducted on Safari, underscoring the financial significance of the partnership for both tech giants.

The financial implications are vast according to MacRummers. For Apple, the payments from Google have become a crucial revenue stream, significantly contributing to its profits. The ramifications for Google are equally substantial; a court ruling against Google could strip the company of access to roughly 70 percent of iPhone searches. This would deal a heavy blow to Google’s mobile search advertising revenue, which played a major role in its $207 billion search ad revenue in 2023.

Related: EU to Investigate Apple and Google’s Compliance with New Tech Rules

In response to potential regulatory challenges, Google has been proactively seeking to reduce its dependency on the Safari deal. The company has been encouraging iPhone users to transition from Safari to its own Google and Chrome apps. Efforts to enhance these apps have included the integration of features like Lens image search and the Discover feed, which offers personalized content.

Despite heavy investments in TV and online advertising campaigns in 2022 and 2023, which highlighted exclusive features available only on its apps, Google’s success has been modest. Over the past five years, the share of iPhone searches conducted through Google’s apps has only increased from 25 percent to the low 30s.

To further bolster its position, Google recently hired Robby Stein, a former Instagram and Yahoo executive, to lead initiatives aimed at boosting the adoption of its apps among iPhone users. Stein’s strategy involves exploring the integration of generative AI to make Google’s mobile apps more appealing. Despite these efforts, Google faces a critical need to double the number of searches performed outside Safari as growth in its Google and Chrome apps stalled last year.

Source: MacRummers