Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella testified in the US government’s antitrust trial against Google and warned of a “nightmare” scenario if Google continues to dominate online search. Nadella emphasized that Google’s control as the default search engine on mobile devices and browsers has restricted consumer access to rival search engines. He highlighted Google’s agreements with companies like Apple, which have made Google the default search engine, as a key element of Google’s strategy. Nadella expressed concern that the vast amount of search data provided to Google through these agreements could enable them to train their artificial intelligence (AI) models more effectively than others, giving them an unfair advantage. Despite Microsoft’s investment of $100 billion in its Bing search engine over the past 20 years, it still has a low market share due to Google’s data advantage and default status.
Nadella argued that Google’s dominance in search is further strengthened by its ability to secure exclusive access to publishers’ content for AI training purposes. He highlighted the use of “carrots and sticks” by Google, such as licensing requirements that make Google’s Play Store a mandatory app on Android devices, to maintain its default position. Nadella compared the situation to Microsoft threatening to withhold Microsoft Office if Bing were not the default search engine, stating that such a move would not be in Microsoft’s business interests. He acknowledged that Google’s current position is different from Microsoft’s antitrust battles in the 1990s but argued that Google’s dominance in search is a significant business opportunity that is reinforced by factors like website optimization and user familiarity.
In his failed negotiations with Apple, Nadella attempted to convince them to switch from Google to Bing as the default search provider. He argued that Bing provides an important counterweight to Google and proposed the idea of running Bing on Apple devices as a “public utility.” Nadella questioned whether Google would continue to pay Apple if Bing were to exit the market. Throughout his testimony, Nadella highlighted Google’s anti-competitive practices and the need for greater competition in the search engine market to prevent Google from further entrenching its power and advantage in AI.