Microsoft CEO Warns of Internet “Nightmare” if Google Continues Search Dominance
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella testified in the ongoing antitrust trial against Google on Monday, warning of a “nightmare” scenario for the internet if Google is allowed to maintain its dominance in online search. Nadella’s testimony highlighted his concerns about Google’s power as the default search engine on mobile devices and browsers worldwide, as well as its potential impact on emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI).
Nadella, dressed in a suit and tie, described Google as a technology giant that has hindered consumer access to rival search engines. He specifically cited Google’s agreements with companies like Apple, which made Google the default search engine for millions of internet users. Nadella stated that he has continuously tried, but failed, to persuade Apple to stop using Google as its default search engine, even offering to spend approximately $15 billion per year for that privilege.
The Microsoft CEO also expressed worry over the vast amount of search data provided to Google through these default agreements. He argued that this data allows Google to train its AI models more effectively than any other competitor, potentially giving Google an insurmountable advantage in generative AI and further solidifying its dominance.
Despite Microsoft’s Bing search engine being profitable and spending around $100 billion over the past two decades, it only holds a single-digit market share in mobile searches and slightly more in desktop searches, according to Nadella. He attributed Bing’s struggle to increase market share to Google’s ability to obtain significant amounts of data through search queries, enabling it to stay ahead of Bing in terms of relevance and quality.
Nadella highlighted the potential impact of Google’s data advantage in the era of AI, where large language models compete based on the data they are trained on. He expressed concerns that Google’s training methods, including securing agreements with content publishers for exclusive access to training material, creates an unfair playing field. Nadella cautioned that what is public today may not be available for AI training purposes tomorrow.
The Microsoft CEO critiqued Google’s use of “incentives and punishments” to make its products the default option on various platforms, contrasting it with Microsoft and Apple’s default apps that are not promoted with the same level of intensity. He likened Google’s tactics to Microsoft threatening to retire Microsoft Office if Bing were not its default search engine, stating that such a move would not be in Microsoft’s best interests.
Nadella concluded his testimony by reiterating that Google’s dominant position in search, especially on mobile devices, presents the largest software business opportunity worldwide. He emphasized the need for competition and encouraged Apple to consider investing in Microsoft’s alternative search engine, Bing, as a counterweight to Google’s dominance.
The antitrust trial against Google is entering its fourteenth day, with Nadella being the highest-level technology executive to testify thus far. The trial focuses on Google’s power and potential anticompetitive behavior in the search engine market.