Google’s Sundar Pichai confirms it pays Apple 36% of search revenue from Safari

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai revealed that Google is spending billions to maintain its position as the default search engine on Apple devices, a revelation that has shocked the tech community. This revelation, which Pichai made while testifying in a separate trial involving Epic Games and Google, complicated the current antitrust investigation into large internet firms.

Credits: The Indian Express

The 36% Cut: Apple’s Lucrative Deal

Among the most important things to learn from Pichai’s testimony was that, shockingly, Google gives Apple a 36 percent cut of the money that comes from Safari searches made by iPhone users. It’s clear from this enormous yearly payout—which was unintentionally made public by a Google expert witness in the antitrust trial—how important it is to have Google the default search engine on Apple devices.

Comparing Deals: Apple vs. Samsung

The disclosure also raised questions about differences in Google’s agreements with other partners. It was mentioned that although Apple obtains a substantial 36% cut, Google may be less giving to partners like Samsung, perhaps giving them less than half of what Apple gets. Pichai said that this was “possible,” highlighting the difficulty of negotiating with various businesses. He pointed out that deals with Samsung could include extra elements like carrier payments, making comparisons “like apples and oranges.”

Competitive Landscape: Google vs. Apple

Despite the substantial payments made to Apple, Pichai maintained that Google still “competes fiercely with Apple.” The default search engine status is crucial for Google’s visibility and market dominance, but it comes at a hefty cost. The competitive dynamics between Google and Apple continue to evolve, shaped not only by these financial arrangements but also by the ongoing legal battles and antitrust scrutiny.

Financial Burden: Google’s Annual Payouts

The information made public during Pichai’s hearing highlights the heavy financial cost Google bears to continue being the default search engine across a range of hardware and browser combinations. According to reports, Google paid about $49 billion in traffic acquisition expenses last year, with a sizable amount going to partners like Apple and Samsung. These astounding numbers demonstrate the extent Google is prepared to go in order to keep up its hegemonic status in the search engine industry.

The Numbers Game: Clarifying the Annual Payout

When pressed about the exact amount Google gives Apple annually, Pichai initially mentioned over $10 billion. However, Epic Games’ lawyer contested this figure, asserting that the actual amount is closer to a substantial $18 billion every year. This discrepancy in reported numbers adds another layer of intrigue to the already complex financial dealings between tech giants.

Legal Battles and Antitrust Scrutiny: Google Under Fire

Google is involved in a number of legal disputes, including two antitrust lawsuits brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) over purported anticompetitive behavior. The disclosure of these significant payouts feeds the flames, heightening criticism of Google’s strategies for sustaining its market dominance. To further complicate matters for the internet giant, Epic Games has accused Google of maintaining an illegal monopoly over app distribution through its Google Play store.

Possible Impact on the Industry:

The disclosure of Google’s substantial payments to secure default search engine status raises questions about the impact on the broader tech industry. As antitrust investigations and lawsuits unfold, the dynamics of partnerships between major tech players may undergo significant changes. The scrutiny on such financial arrangements could lead to more transparency in negotiations and potentially alter the landscape of default search engine deals in the future.


With Google’s admission that it paid billions to have its default search engine on Apple devices, the complex and high-stakes business practices within the tech industry have come to light. There’s a story of fierce competitiveness and regulatory scrutiny because of the financial complexities, differences in transactions with different partners, and growing legal issues. One thing is certain as the industry struggles to make sense of these findings: the tech giants are treading uncharted territory, and the repercussions from these revelations could drastically alter the competitive landscape for digital products for years to come.