DuckDuckGo’s CEO, Gabriel Weinberg, revealed that discussions with Apple regarding a potential partnership were unsuccessful due to Apple’s hesitancy to forgo Google’s substantial payments. This information emerged from the recent transcripts of Google’s high-profile antitrust trial.
Weinberg, DuckDuckGo’s founder, spoke on September 21 about the implications of Google’s $10 billion annual payments to tech firms, ensuring its status as the default search engine on devices.
A portion of Weinberg’s testimony was confidential, but a disclosed transcript highlighted DuckDuckGo’s 2014 agreement with Apple to be listed as an alternative search engine. Following this, DuckDuckGo advocated for becoming the default search engine in Apple’s privacy mode.
Being set as the default is crucial for app developers, as many users seldom alter these settings.
By 2016, Apple showed interest, and the firms held meetings in 2017 and 2018 to explore DuckDuckGo’s elevation to the default for privacy mode. However, Weinberg mentioned that Apple’s existing agreements with Google posed potential hindrances. He inferred that the negotiations ultimately failed in 2019 due to Google’s monetary influence.
John Giannandrea from Apple, whose private testimony was also unveiled, had discussed Apple’s consideration of Bing as a potential competitor or default search engine against Google. However, he opposed this due to Bing’s perceived inferior search quality.
The Justice Department highlighted Google’s dominance in the search realm, holding approximately 90% market share, and its $10 billion annual payouts to ensure its default search status. This supremacy in search positions Google advantageously in the profitable ad industry, augmenting its earnings.