|At issue are the deals in place between Google and cell phone manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, and Verizon. Google pays billions of dollars to these companies to ensure that its search engine is the default on their phones. The federal government claims these arrangements are illegal and unfair to smaller search engines, like DuckDuckGo.
Google has countered that its search engine is more popular by far—in fact, if it was not the default search engine on most cell phones, there is little doubt that the overwhelming majority of customers would choose it anyway. As The Wall Street Journal points out, Windows computers do not come preloaded with Google, but most users swiftly download Google anyway.
The suit was first brought by the Trump administration. Former Attorney General William Barr said the lawsuit “strikes at the heart of Google’s grip over the internet for millions of American consumers, advertisers, small businesses and entrepreneurs beholden to an unlawful monopolist.”
There is little doubt that Google commands a significant market share and that its deals with cell phone manufacturers come at the expense of rival search engines. But the relevant question is whether this hurts consumers. For most people, Google is the entrance point to the internet. If they wanted a different way to search, there are plenty available. DOJ’s suit implicitly argues that the federal government knows us better than we know ourselves—even though our revealed preferences suggest that we like Google perfectly fine.
Foes of government overreach should be rooting for another big loss. The Google trial is set to last for three months. Judge Amit P. Mehta, an Obama appointee, will decide the case.