Nadella testifies against Google in antitrust trial
Satya Nadella, the chief executive of Microsoft, testified on Monday that Google’s power in online search was so ubiquitous that even his company found it difficult to compete on the internet. He became the government’s highest-profile witness in its landmark antitrust trial against the search giant.
In more than three hours of testimony in federal court in Washington, Mr. Nadella was often direct and sometimes combative as he laid out how Microsoft could not overcome Google’s use of multibillion-dollar deals to be the default search engine on smartphones and web browsers. He said the internet was really the “Google web”, and that Google could now use its advantage and scale to build tools to dominate the emerging artificial intelligence industry.
Mr. Nadella’s testimony underscored how entrenched Google has become in online search as the government seeks to prove that the company broke monopoly laws by striking anticompetitive deals to crush rivals. He also said that Microsoft was willing to pay more than $10 billion a year to convince companies to make Bing the default over Google, but they refused. He described Google’s deal with Apple in particular as “oligopolistic”, and said the deals in sum amounted to a “vicious cycle” for Microsoft.
Google defends its practices and products
Google’s lawyers continually argued that Microsoft’s lack of ability to compete was because it had an inferior product, not because of the default agreements. They pointed out that “Google” was the most searched for word on Bing, and that users could easily switch to other search engines if they wanted to.
They also said that Google’s deals with partners were beneficial for consumers and the internet ecosystem, and that they faced competition from other sources of information, such as social media, e-commerce, and voice assistants. They claimed that Google’s search engine was popular because it was simply a superior product that delivered relevant and useful results.
Google’s lawyers also questioned Mr. Nadella’s credibility and motives, suggesting that he was testifying against Google to advance Microsoft’s own interests and agenda. They accused Microsoft of being hypocritical and engaging in similar practices as Google, such as paying to be the default search engine on some devices and browsers.
The trial is a referendum on Google’s power and reach
The trial, which began earlier this month, is the first monopoly trial of the modern internet era. It is being closely watched as a referendum on whether the government can slow down Silicon Valley’s biggest companies. A Google victory could be a major rebuke of regulators who say the tech giants have too much sway over their customers, partners, and start-up competitors.
The trial revolves around the agreements Google has made with Apple, Samsung, and other partners to make Google the default search engine on their devices and browsers. The Department of Justice, which brought the case, argues that they constitute illegal means of creating and maintaining a monopoly. The trial is expected to last for 10 weeks, and will feature testimonies from other executives, experts, and witnesses.
The case is one of several antitrust lawsuits that Google is facing from regulators around the world. The company is also being sued by the Justice Department in a second case over its control of online advertising, and by several state attorneys general over various aspects of its business. Google has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to fight the charges.