- Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified in government’s antitrust trial, providing DOJ opportunity to question him about Google’s actions to maintain search dominance.
- DOJ focused on how Google fought to avoid losing key distribution channels back in 2005 when worried about Microsoft IE7. Also highlighted Google’s close business relationship with Apple.
- DOJ addressed Google’s policy of auto-deleting chats after 24 hours. Pichai said he complies with litigation holds, though DOJ alleges messages deleted.
Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai testified in the US government’s antitrust trial against Google on Monday. It was the first opportunity for the government’s attorneys to question Google’s top executive in open court about the company’s actions to maintain its dominant position in online search.
Google’s Concerns About Losing Distribution Deals
The government’s questioning highlighted how Google fought to avoid losing key distribution channels back when it was a much smaller company in 2005. At the time, Google was worried that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 7 would make it difficult for users to change the default search engine from Microsoft’s own Bing. Google argued that most users don’t change defaults, which is similar to a key part of the government’s current case regarding Google’s deals with Apple and others.
Relationship Between Google and Apple
The Department of Justice also focused on the close business relationship between Google and Apple. In 2021, Google CEO Sundar Pichai approved extending Google’s search deal with Apple. The DOJ pointed to notes from a 2018 meeting where a Google executive said the companies should work as if they were “one company.” Pichai said he did not recall saying that.
Deleted Chat Messages
Additionally, the DOJ addressed Google’s policy of automatically deleting internal chat messages after 24 hours. Pichai acknowledged he was aware of the default “history-off” setting for chats. The DOJ alleges Google systematically destroyed messages relevant to the antitrust case through this setting. Pichai testified he takes care to comply with all litigation holds.
The testimony provided the DOJ an opportunity to directly press Google’s CEO on the company’s business practices regarding search agreements that the government alleges are anticompetitive. Google maintains its deals help provide a better search experience for users. The trial is ongoing.