Australia to investigate Apple’s default search deal with Google

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is concerned about “choice and competition in internet search and web browsers,” focused on internet browser defaults, including Apple’s default search deal with Google.

Google breakup. Image: Google logo

Last October, the U.S. Justice Department filed a landmark lawsuit against Google — the U.S. government’s biggest antitrust case in two decades — and homed in on the Google’s annual multi-billion dollar payment to Apple to be default search on iPhones, iPads, and Macs as a prime example of what prosecutors say are the company’s illegal tactics to protect its monopoly and kill off competition in web search.

Apple now receives an estimated $8 billion to $12 billion in annual payments — up from $1 billion a year in 2014 — in exchange for building Google’s search engine into its products. It is likely the single biggest payment that Google makes each year and accounts for 14%-21% of Apple’s annual profits.

Asha Barbaschow for ZDNet:

The consumer watchdog on Thursday put out a call for submissions, with a number of questions posed in a discussion paper, centered on internet browser defaults.

It claimed Apple’s Safari is the most common browser used in Australia for smartphones and tablets, accounting for 51% of use. This is followed by Chrome with 39%, Samsung Internet with 7%, and with less than 1%, Mozilla Firefox.

This shifts on desktop, with Chrome being the most used browser with 62% market share, followed by Safari with 18%, Edge 9%, and Mozilla 6%.

The consumer watchdog on Thursday put out a call for submissions, with a number of questions posed in a discussion paper, centred on internet browser defaults.

The ACCC said it’s concerned with the impact of pre-installation and default settings on consumer choice and competition, particularly in relation to online search and browsers. It’s also seeking views on supplier behaviour and trends in search services, browsers, and operating systems, and device ecosystems that may impact the supply of search and browsers to Australian consumers.

It wants views also on the extent to which existing consumer harm can arise from the design of defaults and other arrangements.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple did it with Maps, they could do it with search (and likely start out better than they started in Maps, which wouldn’t be difficult).

Although, with Apple’s recent selective and demonstrably hypocritical banning of apps in their App Store, we’re quite sure we don’t want Apple dominating in search engines; not under current management, unregulated, at least. We would not trust Apple’s search results any more than we trust Google’s.

In fact, due to the importance that the internet has today, and has had for many years now, search engines should be declared a public utility and regulated, preferably by an independent bipartisan body, to ensure that censorship, shadow banning, and the like are not occurring. No such protections exist today.

If you haven’t already, give DuckDuckGo a try today!

Apple allows users to easily switch to the privacy-respecting DuckDuckGo search engine in Safari:

macOS:
1. Click Safari in the top menu bar.
2. Select Preferences.
3. Click on Search.
4. Select DuckDuckGo.

iOS/iPadOS:
1. Open Settings.
2. Navigate and tap on Safari.
3. Tap on Search Engine.
4. Select DuckDuckGo.

3 Comments

  1. I use DuckDuckGo mostly because I dislike Google’s approach to privacy. Google may occasionally find more (and potentially better) search results, but those extra “hits” require wading through a bunch of Google owned mini-search engines, each presenting more ads than results.

  2. Using Duck Duck Go won’t help you if the Government follows MDN’s advice that “SEARCH ENGINES SHOULD BE DECLARED A PUBLIC UTILITY AND REGULATED.” Whatever politician happens to be in power (currently Joe Biden) can dictate whatever search results on every platform are most likely to perpetuate their grip on power. That seems pretty antithetical to the First Amendment principle of government not abridging free speech, but if replacing corporate decisions with government control floats your boat…

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