Sunday, December 10, 2023

Google Pays Apple $18B to $20B a Year to Be Default iOS Search Engine


It’s widely known that Apple and Google have a considerable monetary agreement that ensures Google’s position as the default search engine on Apple’s iOS devices, but neither company reveals the amounts involved. In 2021, financial advisor Bernstein suggested Google was paying Apple as much as $10 billion a year to maintain the status quo. However, in a new investor note, the analyst claims Google’s payment to Apple is now between $18 billion and $20 billion.

First reported by The Register, Bernstein published a report assessing the potential implications for Apple of the US government’s ongoing antitrust trial against Google, with the Department of Justice considering Google’s Information Services Agreement (ISA) with Apple as evidence that it has a search engine monopoly.

“We believe there is a possibility that federal courts rule against Google and force it to terminate its search deal with Apple,” said Bernstein in the report seen by The Register. “We estimate that the ISA is worth $18B-20B in annual payments from Google to Apple, accounting for 14-16 percent of Apple’s annual operating profits.”

Bernstein says Google pays out 22 percent of total ad revenue under its traffic acquisition costs (TAC) and estimates Apple likely receives around 40 percent of this. Bernstein bases its numbers on Apple’s public filings as well as a bottom-up analysis of Google’s traffic acquisition costs. The DoJ has said in the trial that it thinks Apple receives around $10 billion from the ISA with Google, although its information comes from external sources.

“Importantly, Google is on trial, not Apple, and Apple could (in theory) partner with another search engine to be the default (and/or retain the agreement with Google outside the US),” the report states. “One more likely scenario is that Apple offers a choice screen. We note that Apple controls access to its installed base, which generates ~$60B + in advertising revenues, and accordingly, we believe that Apple would continue to command a commission (in the 25-30 percent range) for providing access to those search advertising revenues.

“Moreover, introduction of a choice screen could offer Apple the opportunity to potentially launch its own search engine as an option – something it could likely not do today without raising the eyebrows of regulators,” the Bernstein report adds.

Last month, the trial revealed that Microsoft considered selling its Bing search engine to Apple. Had the acquisition happened, Bing would have replaced Google as the default search engine on Apple devices.

Experts say there is a chance Google could lose the case, which would put Apple’s lucrative agreement, which has been in place for a decade, in significant jeopardy. However, a ruling in the case isn’t expected before next year, and the likelihood is that proceedings will be extended by the lengthy appeals process.Tag: Google
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