Judge in Google antitrust trial expresses doubt about search market competitor Judge in Google antitrust trial expresses doubt about search market competitor

Google walked away with nearly $96 billion in operating profits last year, largely from its sales of digital ads, which also dominate the market by a large margin. This is partly due to the fact that it controls approximately 90% of the US internet search market. Given these circumstances, it would be difficult for a new player to enter this market and compete successfully. This was the opinion expressed on Thursday by US District Judge Amit Mehta, who is overseeing the antitrust trial against the tech giant.

During the first day of closing arguments, Mehta questioned Google's lead litigator John Schmidtlein on the viability of a potential competitor search engine, stating: "It seems to be very, very unlikely, if not impossible, under the current market conditions." The issue of competitiveness is particularly pertinent given that Google spends over $20 billion annually on default search engine contracts, ensuring its search engine automatically answers queries on Apple's iPhone, Safari, and Mozilla's Firefox, amongst others.

Mehta questioned why a competitor would not enter the market to try to gain a share of Google's large profits, stating: "It appears odd to me that there is a marketplace where Google is making billions of dollars in profit, yet nobody is trying to enter the market to cut into that profit". He also pointed to the "stickiness" of default search options, querying why more users do not switch to competitors such as Bing or Yahoo.

Google has reiterated its stance that its success is due to superior technology rather than sinister tactics, with Schmidtlein emphasizing that "Google is winning because it's better…" The trial, which mirrors a similar case against Microsoft in the 1990s, poses an existential threat to the tech giant, and Judge Mehta will soon rule on whether or not Google broke the law in the late summer or early autumn.

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