UK regulators could sever the billion dollar search engine deal between Apple and Google

Regulators around the world are stepping up antitrust investigations into Apple. The latest sees the UK government review Apple’s deal with Google that makes it the default search engine on its devices in the Safari browser.

Google is paying Apple billions to remain the default search engine on its devices in the company’s Safari browser. In 2018, Google paid about $10 billion in total for this honor. Regulators say $1.5 billion was paid to be the default search engine on UK Apple devices in 2019.

Reported by Reuters, UK regulators investigated Apple’s search deal with Google and found it created a “significant barrier to entry and expansion” for competitors. Here is what the UK Competition and Markets Authority said:

“Given the impact of pre-installations and defects on mobile devices and Apple’s large market share, we believe that Apple’s existing agreements with Google create a significant barrier to entry and expansion for rivals affecting search engine competition on mobiles,” the regulators wrote in the report.

The UK Competition and Markets Authority has offered a few options to change how the deal between Apple and Google works or to break the deal entirely to make things fair for competition:

…law enforcement should have a range of options to respond to the Apple-Google deal, including requiring “choice screens” where users decide which search engine to set as default during device setup or by restricting Apple’s ability to monetize Default Positions.

For its part, Apple simply pointed out to UK regulators that “monetization restrictions would be ‘very costly'”.

This latest antitrust investigation comes after the European Commission just launched two of its own purchases on the App Store and Apple Pay last month. Meanwhile, in the US, an official investigation into Apple via the App Store is also looming.

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