Google Strategizes to Reduce Reliance on Apple’s Safari Amid Antitrust Scrutiny

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Google is making strategic moves to lessen its dependence on Apple’s Safari browser amidst an ongoing antitrust investigation, according to a recent report from The Information. The investigation by the Justice Department centers on Google’s substantial payments to Apple—exceeding $20 billion annually—to maintain its status as the default search engine on iPhones.

While Apple is not directly involved in the lawsuit, key executives like Eddy Cue have provided testimonies. The revenue-sharing agreement between Google and Apple involves Google paying Apple a portion of advertising revenue generated from searches conducted via Safari, a pre-installed browser on Apple devices. This arrangement has drawn scrutiny for potentially stifling competition in the search engine market.

Google’s response includes efforts to persuade iPhone users to switch from Safari to its own Google and Chrome apps for search purposes. Despite some progress over the years, with the share of searches through Google apps increasing to around 30%, Google’s goal of achieving 50% by 2030 remains unmet.

To drive this initiative forward, Google has enlisted Robby Stein, a former executive from Instagram and Yahoo. Stein’s focus includes leveraging generative AI to enhance Google’s app appeal, although earlier discussions of restricting AI Overviews exclusively to Google’s apps were ultimately abandoned. This feature provides AI-generated search responses and was intended to incentivize users to migrate away from Safari.

The challenge lies in convincing users to abandon Safari, deeply integrated into Apple devices. Google’s strategic adjustments aim to not only reduce its financial exposure to Apple but also navigate potential regulatory actions stemming from the antitrust probe.

As the investigation unfolds, Google’s efforts to diversify browser usage among iPhone users underscore its proactive stance amidst legal and competitive pressures.

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