UK Regulators Aren't Happy About Apple and Google's Search Deal

By Holly Brockwell on at

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating a deal between Apple and Google, and might wade in to break up the party.

Google pays Apple literal billions to be the default search engine on Safari, which regulators think will stop other companies trying to get a piece of the search pie. Well, yes, but Bing was default on Microsoft browsers and look how that turned out.

The report says:

"Given the impact of preinstallations and defaults on mobile devices and Apple’s significant market share, it is our view that Apple’s existing arrangements with Google create a significant barrier to entry and expansion for rivals affecting competition between search engines on mobiles."

The CMA isn't necessarily saying Google and Apple have to stop working together entirely. Suggestions for fixing the situation to its satisfaction includes offering a selection screen so users can pick their own search engine when they're setting up a new device. Realistically, how many people who don't know how to change the default search engine in their browser are aware of DuckDuckGo or Wolfram Alpha and wouldn't be able to switch otherwise?

Nonetheless, we agree that more competition is always a good thing for users, and it's a positive thing that someone has a close eye on what the Big Guys are doing with their market muscle and billions of dollars.

Apple's response was apparently to say that cancelling the deal would be "very costly," which sounds to us like "we'll jack up the price of iPhones for normal people and it'll be all your fault."

It sounds like the revenue's dropping anyway, though: Google's payments to Apple have reduced significantly over time. They apparently paid $10bn in 2018 but only (ha) $1.5bn in 2019. Small change for these dudes. [9To5Mac]