Google paid $1 billion to keep search engine on Apple iPhones

Google paid $1 billion to keep search engine on Apple iPhones
© Getty

Google paid Apple $1 billion in 2014 to remain the default search engine on iPhones, according to court transcripts that have since been pulled from the public record.

Bloomberg Business reviewed and reported the news before the documents were taken down. Google is pressing a court to redact sensitive portions of court transcripts in a long-running, unrelated copyright litigation with the company Oracle.

Google has a deal with Apple wherein it pays a portion of the search revenue it makes from having its engine on the iPhone, according Oracle lawyer Annette Hurst, who made the revelation during a Jan. 14 transcript. 

According to Hurst, “at one point in time the revenue share was 34 percent.” Bloomberg reported that it was unclear whether that statistic referred to the percentage of revenue Google paid to Apple or kept for itself. Nonetheless, the total in 2014 appeared to hit $1 billion. 

The judge in the case initially ruled to deny Google’s motion to redact portions of the transcript. But Apple and Google have both filed new motions to redact the information. Since then, the transcript has been completely pulled from the public record. 

Apple noted that the terms resulted from highly confidential negotiations and only a portion of Apple employees know the figure. The company said revealing the number could harm future negotiations. 

“If this information is disclosed, for example, third parties seeking to negotiate terms of a business relationship with Apple might leverage this information against Apple, thereby forcing Apple into an uneven bargaining position in future negotiations,” Apple wrote in a brief. 

“Public disclosure of this information could severely and adversely impact Google’s ability to negotiate, inter alia, similar terms with other third parties in connection with similar agreements now or in the future,” according to Google.