Washington, United States:
The Justice Department pressed its argument on Thursday that Google sought to strike agreements with mobile carriers to win powerful default positions on smartphones to dominate search in an antitrust trial that could change the future of the internet.
The government wrapped up questioning of Antonio Rangel, who teaches behavioral biology at the California Institute of Technology on Thursday morning. Rangel discussed how consumers were likely to stick with browsers on computers and mobile phones that were pre-installed as the default application.
The government says the Alphabet unit paid $10 billion annually to wireless companies like AT&T, device makers like Apple and browser makers like Mozilla to be the default search engine on devices to fend off rivals and keep its search engine market share near 90%.
John Schmidtlein, a lawyer for Google, during cross-examination of Rangel, pointed out that a significant number of user search queries went to Google even when another search engine was the default.
A major part of Google’s defense is that the government is wrong to say that Google broke the law to hold onto its massive market share because its search engine is wildly popular because of its quality, and that any payments to wireless companies or others were fair compensation for partners.
The fight has major implications for Big Tech, which has been accused of buying or strangling small rivals but has defended itself by emphasizing that its services are free, as in the case of Google, or inexpensive, as in the case of Amazon.com.
The government called witnesses on Tuesday and Wednesday to show that Google, as far back as the mid-2000s, sought to attract a large number of search queries by winning default status on mobile devices.
Google’s clout in search, the government alleges, has helped Google build monopolies in some aspects of online search advertising. Search is free, so Google makes money through advertising.
The government has also alleged that Google illegally took steps to protect communications about the payments.
If Google is found to have broken the law, US District Judge Amit Mehta, who is deciding the case, will then decide how to resolve it. He may order Google to stop practices he has found to be illegal or to sell assets.
Previous major antitrust trials include Microsoft, filed in 1998, and AT&T, filed in 1974. The AT&T breakup in 1982 is credited with paving the way for the modern cell phone industry, while the fight with Microsoft is credited with opening space for Google and others on the internet.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)