WASHINGTON (AP) — A top Google executive testified Thursday that the company’s success is uncertain and said its leadership fears their product could become irrelevant to young Internet users.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Prabhakar Raghavan, Google’s senior vice president for knowledge and information products, testified for the tech giant as it defends itself in the biggest antitrust trial in the last 25 years. The government has accused the company of illegally infiltrating competitors against its ubiquitous search engine.
Raghavan downplayed Google’s dominance and described it as a company surrounded by competitors on all sides. He said the company has been tagged with the derogatory nickname “Grandpa Google” among younger demographics, who do not see it as an interesting product.
“Grandpa Google knows the answers and will help you with homework,” Raghavan said. “But when it comes to doing interesting things, they prefer to start somewhere else.”
Google lawyers showed Raghavan a 1998 Fortune magazine article that said, “Yahoo! “Has won the search-engine wars and is ready for even bigger things.”
Raghavan, who once worked at Yahoo, said that as technology evolves, Google spends heavily on research and development to try to stay ahead.
“I have a strong feeling that I will not become the next roadkill,” he said.
The Justice Department has presented evidence that Google secured its dominance in search by paying Apple and other companies billions of dollars annually to lock Google in as the default search engine on iPhones and other popular products.
A Microsoft executive also testified that Google’s dominant position becomes self-fulfilling, as it uses data collected from billions of searches to improve the efficiency of future searches.
Google says that its search engine is dominant because it has a better product than its competitors. The company said it has invested more quickly in mobile devices and other emerging technologies than competitors like Microsoft, and now those investments are bearing fruit.
And it cites evidence that consumers switch their search engine to Google the majority of the time, where any other search engine is offered as the default option.
Raghavan also said in his testimony that Google’s competition is not just from traditional search engines like Microsoft’s Bing, but from different “verticals” like Expedia or Yelp that people use for travel or dining convenience.
“We feel like we compete with them every day,” he said.
The antitrust case, the largest since the Justice Department went after Microsoft and its dominance over internet browsers 25 years ago, was filed in 2020 during the Trump administration. The trial began last month and Google is expected to present its case next month.
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta is not expected to issue a decision until early next year. If he decides Google broke the law, another trial would determine how to rein in its market power. One option would be to stop paying companies to make Google the default search engine.
Google is also facing a similar antitrust lawsuit filed by the Justice Department in Alexandria, Virginia, over its advertising technology. That case has not been heard yet.