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Google Paid Apple $1 Billion To Keep Its Search Bar On Your iPhone

Aaron Mamiit

A report stated that Google paid Apple $1 billion last year to keep the company’s search bar on the iPhone.

The information was acquired from a court proceedings transcript on the copyright lawsuit filed by Oracle against Google.

In a federal court hearing on Jan. 14, a lawyer for Oracle said that Google has an agreement in place that funnels a certain percentage of Google’s revenue that it makes through the iPhone to Apple.

Since 2010, Oracle has been locked in a legal battle with Google about claims that it used Oracle’s Java software without making any payments for it in the development of the Android mobile operating system.

The fight has been taken back to U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco, after previously being lodged at the U.S. Supreme Court, where Google was defeated in its attempt to derail the lawsuit. The amount of damages that Oracle is now seeking could be higher than $1 billion, as the company has increased its claims to also cover the new versions of Android.

The real news, however, is the information that the Oracle attorney revealed regarding the partnership between Apple and Google.

There have been rumors circulating over the previous years that Apple has been receiving payments from Google so the search engine could remain on the iPhone, but the two companies never publicly confirmed the amount. Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet and Google spokesman Aaron Stein both declined to issue a comment regarding the information about the Google-Apple partnership.

The agreement shows how far Google will go to keep mobile device owners using its search engine. It also reveals the financial benefits that Apple is gaining from the advertising-based business model of Google, despite Apple CEO Tim Cook previously criticizing the strategy as an intrusion to user privacy.

Annette Hurst, the lawyer for Oracle who disclosed the details of the agreement between Google and Apple, says that a Google witness who was questioned during the pretrial phase said that at a certain point in time, the revenue share was 34 percent. It was not made clear whether the percentage is referring to the revenue that was kept by Google or paid by Google to Apple.

A Google attorney objected to the disclosure of information, and then tried to have the presiding judge erase the mention of the 34 percent figure from records.

“That percentage just stated, that should be sealed,” said Google attorney Robert Van Nest, according to the transcript. “We are talking hypotheticals here. That’s not a publicly known number.”

The judge later denied the request of Google to erase the mention of the percentage from the transcript, which has been made open for public review. Google then requested for Alsup to seal and then redact the transcript, stating that the disclosure of the information could greatly affect the company’s ability for negotiating similar deals with other companies. In a separate filing, Apple joined Google in the request.

“The specific financial terms of Google’s agreement with Apple are highly sensitive to both Google and Apple,” write Google in a filing on Wednesday, adding that the two companies have been treating the information as extremely confidential.

The transcript is now gone from electronic court records, with no statement on whether the court accepted the request of Google to seal the transcript.