Google Reportedly Paid Apple $1 Billion to Stay on iOS

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

An attendee demonstrates the new Apple Inc. iPhone 6 Plus after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Apple Inc. unveiled redesigned iPhones with bigger screens, overhauling its top-selling product in an event that gives the clearest sign yet of the company's product direction under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook.

A lawsuit between Oracle and Google may have inadvertently revealed one of the biggest secrets in tech: how much does Google pay rival Apple to be the default search engine on iOS devices? The answer, according to Bloomberg, is $1 billion.

The information was disclosed by an Oracle attorney in a court transcript for a copyright lawsuit in which the software giant claims Google infringed on its Java-related patents found in the Android operating system.

In addition to a $1 billion payment in 2014, the transcript reveals that Google also has an ad revenue sharing agreement with Apple that at one point was 34 percent, though it’s unclear whether that is the amount paid to Apple or kept by Google.

(It should be noted that Google's arrangement with Apple is not exclusive. While it is the default search in the Safari browser, Siri users are given Bing results.)

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According to the transcript, a Google attorney objected to the mention of 34 percent and asked that it be sealed. “We are talking hypotheticals here,” Robert Van Nest is quoted as saying. “That’s not a publicly known number.” 

The presiding judge rejected Google’s request and later, Apple joined Google in a separate motion to seal and redact the transcript. “The specific financial terms of Google’s agreement with Apple are highly sensitive to both Google and Apple,” Google said in its Jan. 20 filing. “Both Apple and Google have always treated this information as extremely confidential.”

A day after that filing, Bloomberg reports that the transcript vanished from electronic court records without notice.

Representatives for Apple and Google have not commented on the disclosure.


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