Google Pays Apple $1B Not to Nuke the Search Bar on Devices

Google searches in Syria

Google’s effort to keep its search bar alive on Apple iPhones turns out to be a bigger deal than many people suspected — especially since, as Bloomberg Business notes, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been criticizing Google for invading the privacy of users:

Apple received $1 billion from its rival in 2014, according to a transcript of court proceedings from Oracle Corp.’s copyright lawsuit against Google. The search engine giant has an agreement with Apple that gives the iPhone maker a percentage of the revenue Google generates through the Apple device, an attorney for Oracle said at a Jan. 14 hearing in federal court.

Rumors about how much Google pays Apple to be on the iPhone have circulated for years, but the companies have never publicly disclosed it. Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple, and Google spokesman Aaron Stein both declined to comment on the information disclosed in court.

Cook has been positioning Apple as a champion of privacy, evenrefusing government demands for back-door access to encrypted information in the interests of fighting terrorism. He has lambasted competitors such as Google and Facebook for data-mining private customer information to optimize advertising campaigns.

Evidently a billion dollars goes a long way toward soothing such concerns.  In fact, as Bloomberg puts it, Apple is benefiting financially from the exact same Google advertising-based business model Cook denounces as intrusive.

As for Oracle, they uncovered the details of the arrangement between Apple and Google as part of a lawsuit over Google allegedly using Oracle’s Java software for the Android cell-phone platform without paying for it.

“The showdown has returned to U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco after a pit stop at the U.S. Supreme Court, where Google lost a bid to derail the case. The damages Oracle now seeks may exceed $1 billion since it expanded its claims to cover newer Android versions,” Bloomberg reports.

When a pretrial witness revealed the amount of revenue shared between Google and Apple, a Google attorney argued that the percentage disclosed was “hypothetical,” and was not public information, since disclosing it could interfere with Google’s ability to negotiate other deals.  Google and Apple both asked for the disclosure to be stricken from the court record, and while the judge originally refused, Bloomberg reports the transcript mysteriously vanished from the court’s computer system on Thursday afternoon, without a final ruling.