Wed. Sep 20th, 2023
    The U.S. Justice Department Questions Verizon Executive in Google Antitrust Case

    The U.S. Justice Department has interrogated a Verizon executive regarding the company’s decision to always pre-install Google’s Chrome browser with Google search on its mobile phones. The government is attempting to demonstrate that Alphabet’s Google violated antitrust law in order to maintain its dominance in online search.

    The executive, Brian Higgins, who has been with Verizon for 28 years and was part of a team that struck deals with Google, testified in a federal court in Washington that he believes Google’s Chrome browser is pre-installed on Verizon phones at all times. The government alleges that Google’s annual payments of $10 billion to mobile carriers and others helped the company secure default positions on smartphones, which, in turn, contributed to its success in areas such as online advertising.

    Another Google executive, James Kolotouros, testified that the company pushed Android smartphone makers to have Google as the default search engine and pre-install other apps on their devices. Antonio Rangel, an expert in behavioral biology, also testified that users tend to stick with default options like search engines and map apps on their computers and mobile phones.

    In response, Google’s lawyer presented data indicating that users are satisfied with Google’s search engine when it is pre-installed on their devices and tend to switch away from other options they prefer less. The defense argument is that Google’s market share is a result of the quality of its product rather than any illegal practices to establish monopolies.

    This antitrust trial, which is one of the largest in the U.S. in decades, could have significant implications for the future of the internet. The case has drawn attention to the dominance of four major tech companies, including Google, and their practices have been under scrutiny by Congress and antitrust enforcers. The outcome of the trial will determine whether Google violated the law, and if so, the judge will decide on appropriate remedies.

    Source: Diane Bartz, Thomson Reuters