/ 13 September 2023

Antitrust? Let’s Google that…

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Overnight, Google and the US Justice Department met in court to begin an antitrust lawsuit that could reshape the internet as we know it. Over the next 10 weeks, the US Government will argue that Google used illegal means to become the search engine over 90% of us use. Specifically, it’s about Google’s agreements with Apple and Samsung to make google.com the default on their smartphones. That’s a move prosecutors reckon has reduced competition and ultimately meant that the internet isn’t as good as it could have otherwise been. 


That they’re the biggest because they’re the best. Google executive Kent Walker reckons people use Google “because they want to”, and he’s also argued that it only takes about 4 taps on your smartphone to change your default search engine. Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet (aka Google’s parent company), is also expected to defend his company in the witness box. As for what could happen, if the the Justice Department wins, Google could be forced to change its practices – or, if things get really dramatic, be broken up into smaller companies to reduce its impact. That’s why parallels have been drawn to the last big antitrust case against Microsoft in 1998-99. Microsoft settled, and it allowed upstart companies – like Google – to flourish. 


Nope… Also on the pointy end of government intervention – albeit in another jurisdiction – is Apple, with the European Union moving on several complaints against the Fruit Company… And one outcome that might be making its way into your pocket soon is the ruling around iPhone chargers. Last year, the EU regulator said that Apple has 2 years to ditch the proprietary Lightning cable on its phones in favour of a generic USB-C port (the same cable you might use for your laptop). So it was anticipated that Apple’s new iPhone 15 would feature the USB-C port – and that was unveiled in the wee hours of this morning. Apple will be crossing its fingers that the new phone is a winner, especially as US-China tensions rock the company. Last week, China banned government staff from using iPhones, a move which saw the company’s share price dive 4%. It’s a rocky time in the tech world…

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