Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella testified on Monday as a witness for the US Justice Department in a landmark antitrust trial against Google’s parent company, Alphabet. The Justice Department alleges Google, which has some 90% of the search market, has abused the dominance of its ubiquitous search engine to throttle competition and innovation at the expense of consumers. The government has argued that Google illegally paid $10 billion annually to smartphone makers like Apple and wireless carriers like AT&T and others to be the default in search on their devices in order to stay on top.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella arrives at federal court on October 2, 2023 in Washington, DC.(Getty Images via AFP)

Here’s what Satya Nadella told the packed Washington, D.C., courtroom:

Nadella said it could never compete against the search engine behemoth, largely due to its arrangements with Apple.

“You can call it popular, but to me it’s dominant,” Nadella told a Google lawyer during tense cross examination.

He said that unfair tactics used by Google led to its dominance as a search engine, thwarting his company’s rival program, Bing.

“We are one of the alternatives but we’re not the default,” Nadella said.

Nadella revealed that Microsoft Corp. was willing to hide its search engine’s “Bing” brand on Apple Inc. devices in order to secure an agreement with the iPhone maker. Getting that default spot from Apple would be “game-changing,” Nadella said.

“Whomever they choose, they king-make.”

The Microsoft chief executive complained Google was locking up content with expensive and exclusive deals with publishers when tech giants were competing for vast troves of content needed to train artificial intelligence.

“When I am meeting with publishers now, they say Google’s going to write this check and it’s exclusive and you have to match it,” he said.

Nadella said he was now worried that Google would be able to use its dominance in search to strongarm content providers that are key to training generative AI models.

“I worry a lot in spite of my enthusiasm that this vicious cycle can become even more vicious,” Nadella said.

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