Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is US govt’s star witness in landmark case against Google

Bloomberg | | Posted by Nisha Anand
Oct 03, 2023 06:15 AM IST

Alphabet Inc.’s search division is accused of unlawfully maintaining a monopoly by paying $10 billion a year to make its search engine the default option.

Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella said that the notion that users have choice in the search market is “bogus,” as he took the stand Monday in the Google antitrust trial.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks, Feb. 7, 2023, in Redmond, Wash.(AP)
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks, Feb. 7, 2023, in Redmond, Wash.(AP)

“You get up in the morning, you brush your teeth and you search on Google,” Nadella said.

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The Department of Justice has accused Alphabet Inc.’s search division of unlawfully maintaining a monopoly by paying $10 billion a year to rivals, smartphone manufacturers and wireless carriers to make its search engine the default option on mobile devices and web browsers. Google has denied the allegations.

Also Read: Watching: Google’s first monopoly trial in USA

To help prove its case, the DOJ hopes to use testimony from Nadella and other executives from Microsoft to show how even a company of its size and resources couldn’t unlock Google’s hold on the search market.

Last week, Microsoft business development executive Jonathan Tinter testified that the Redmond, Washington-based software giant failed to secure a deal to put its Bing search app on Apple’s products, even though it was willing to offer far better terms than Google and lose multiple billions of dollars on the agreement. In the end, Apple signed a fresh deal with Google.

Tinter also told the court that Microsoft’s Surface Duo smartphone was required to use Google search in order to license the Android mobile operating system and was limited from using Bing on its own devices. Nadella was personally involved in discussing some of these issues with his Google counterpart, Sundar Pichai, and will probably be asked about those conversations.

Nadella was instrumental in the development of Bing, created by Microsoft in an ultimately doomed attempt to catch up with Google and capture a chunk of the online advertising market.

“I see search or internet search as the largest software category out there. We are a very very low share player,” he testified. “But we continue to persist in it because we think of it as a software category we can contribute to.” Nadella added: “It’s a hard game to make any breakthroughs, but no one can accuse us of not being persistent.”

While Bing has gained share on desktop computers, where it was integrated with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and later Edge browser, it has lagged on mobile devices where people overwhelming use Google. Three or so years ago, Microsoft even discussed selling Bing to Apple, a transaction that would have replaced Google as the default option on the iPhone maker’s devices, Bloomberg reported. But a deal never came to fruition.

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