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Google lays out defense against ‘deeply flawed’ DOJ antitrust suit, argues that users choose Search

Following the US Justice Department filing its antitrust case over Google’s search dominance, the company quickly said that the lawsuit was “deeply flawed.” Google has since published a longer defense that challenges the facts laid out by the government and argues that end users choose Search naturally.

Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker makes the overall argument that “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.” Google argues the “lawsuit would do nothing to help consumers.”

To the contrary, it would artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices, and make it harder for people to get the search services they want to use.

The company defends its practice of paying Apple and other Android OEMs to be the default search engine. Google says paid promotion is common and equates it to a hypothetical cereal maker paying a grocery store for “eye-level shelf space.”

Our agreements with Apple and other device makers and carriers are no different from the agreements that many other companies have traditionally used to distribute software. Other search engines, including Microsoft’s Bing, compete with us for these agreements. And our agreements have passed repeated antitrust reviews. 

It then shows examples of competition and similar practices on Apple devices, Windows, and Android, as well as how it’s easy to switch:

Google then makes the case that its Search product is superior and that consumers are aware of that. It touts an example of users switching back to Google after Yahoo! was made the default on Firefox:

When Yahoo! paid to be the default search engine in Firefox, most Americans promptly switched their search engine to their first choice—Google. (Mozilla later chose Google to be its default search provider, citing an “effort to provide quality search” and its “focus on user experience.”)

Lastly, Google makes the repeated argument that it has many, non-traditional Search competitors in specific verticals: 

People find information in lots of ways: They look for news on Twitter, flights on Kayak and Expedia, restaurants on OpenTable, recommendations on Instagram and Pinterest. And when searching to buy something, around 60 percent of Americans start on Amazon.

Google says it is “confident that a court will conclude that this suit doesn’t square with either the facts or the law.” 

We understand that with our success comes scrutiny, but we stand by our position. American antitrust law is designed to promote innovation and help consumers, not tilt the playing field in favor of particular competitors or make it harder for people to get the services they want. 

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: