When people ask if I use Google Search, I always respond, “We’re an Ecosia family.” I’m not sure that Apple VP Eddy Cue even knows that Ecosia exists, though.
Today, Cue, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Services, took the stand to testify in US v. Google, the antitrust suit that claims Google holds a monopoly with its search business. Cue was summoned as a witness in the case and to specifically talk about Apple’s longstanding deal with Google to make its search engine the default on Apple’s products like the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
As reported by The Verge, Apple originally made the deal back in 2002, but Cue was the one who renegotiated the deal in 2016 with Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. When pressed if Cue would have walked away from the deal back in 2016, he argued that he never saw it as an option, saying, “I always felt like it was in Google’s best interest, and our best interest, to get a deal done.”
When pressed as to why Apple doesn’t allow users to choose their preferred search engine while setting up their devices, Cue claimed that most people haven’t even heard of the other search engines and that trying to train them on what’s different about them would be a bad user experience.
“We try to get people up and running as fast as possible,” he said. “Setup is just critical stuff.” Showing people a bunch of search engines they’ve never heard of would just be a bad user experience, he argued; even Cue couldn’t remember the names of some of the alternatives to Google. “We make Google be the default search engine,” he said, “because we’ve always thought it was the best. We pick the best one and let users easily change it.”
Cue went even further and said that not only did he believe that there wasn’t a “valid alternative” to Google Search back in 2016, but that there still wasn’t one in 2023 either. The U.S. government is trying to prove that the reason for this isn’t because Google makes a better product but because it holds a monopoly over search due to deals like it has with Apple, Samsung, and others.
I personally don’t use Google Search and instead opt to use Ecosia, a search engine focused on privacy and environmentalism. With every search you make, Ecosia uses part of the money made through advertising to plant trees. There are other options as well, like the privacy-focused and more feature-rich DuckDuckGo as well as Bing, of course.
While adding a step to choose your search engine is certainly one more thing for users to deal with during setup, I can’t imagine that the experience would be so bad that people wouldn’t appreciate at least a little education about their options — especially since Apple claims to care about privacy, something that Google has a looser relationship with.