Google paid Apple $1B to be default iOS search bar provider in 2014

article thumbnail

Court documents from Oracle's copyright lawsuit against Google show the Internet search giant paid some $1 billion to Apple in 2014 in return for making its search bar the default option on iOS.

In a public transcript of ongoing court proceedings, an Oracle lawyer is quoted as saying Google paid out the funds as part of a revenue sharing agreement with Apple, reports Bloomberg. Terms of the contract are unclear, but Google apparently handed over a percentage of revenue generated through iOS device searches.

Today's report confirms years of speculation concerning the benefits Apple reaps by allowing Google to process — and glean data from — iOS searches. In 2013 it was estimated that Apple takes in more than $1 billion from Google search referrals, though neither company has commented officially on those numbers.

Oracle's attorney, Annette Hurst, noted in court last week that an unnamed Google witness interviewed during pretrial proceedings said, "at one point in time the revenue share was 34 percent." Bloomberg was unable to gather whether the percentage reflects the share Google keeps or pays to Apple.

Google lawyers attempted to strike Hurst's statements regarding the 34 percent amount from the official record, but was rebuffed by presiding Judge William Alsup. A subsequent filing requested the transcript be sealed and redacted as the information could prove detrimental in negotiating terms with other companies. Apple made a separate filing asking the same.

The revelation contrasts Apple CEO Tim Cook's stance on privacy. The Apple chief has on many occasions decried companies — Google — that monetize personal data, including information gathered from Web searches.

"You might like these so-called free services, but we don't think they're worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for God knows what advertising purpose," Cook said at the Electronic Privacy Information Center's Champions of Freedom event event last year. "And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is."

For its part, Apple does not market, support or implement products that gather sensitive user data. Current iterations of iOS apps and services like Maps, Health and the embattled iAd platform transport and store user information, but that data is protected and for the most part anonymized. Importantly, Apple does not monetize its customer base.

Oracle is suing Google for allegedly using unlicensed Java software to build the Android operating system.