Google Expected to Pay Apple $15 Billion to Remain Default Search Engine on iOS

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Image: Apple

The average Apple user probably doesn’t put much thought into Google being the default search engine for iOS, but there is actually an exceptional amount of money involved.

As pointed out in a report shared by veteran Apple journalist and podcaster Philip Elmer-DeWitt, Google has been paying Apple billions for the privilege of keeping users glued to its search engine on iOS. More specifically, Google is estimated to have paid Apple $10 billion in FY 2020 to keep its search engine as the default on the popular mobile OS.

What’s crazy is that this amount is actually set to get even higher. According to a recent note to clients shared by Elmer-DeWitt, Google is expected to pay Apple as much as $15 billion in FY 21 to keep its search engine as the default on iOS. This is expected to contribute “an amazing ~850 bps to Services growth YoY, and amount to ~9 percent of company gross profits.”

Analyst Toni Sacconaghi suggests that Google is happy to pay this amount to ensure that it isn’t outbid by Microsoft, which is presumably keen on exposing more Apple users to its own search engine. Bing was launched 12 years ago but has struggled to come anywhere near the dominance of Google’s search engine.

Google’s payments to Apple are estimated to reach as high as $20 billion in FY 22.

Image: Apple 3.0

We see two potential risks to GOOG’s payments to AAPL: (1) regulatory risk, which we believe is real, but likely years away; we see a potential 4-5 percent impact to Apple’s gross profits from an adverse ruling; & (2) that Google chooses to stop paying Apple to be the default search engine altogether, or looks to renegotiate terms and pay less. We have noted in prior research that GOOG is likely paying to ensure Microsoft doesn’t outbid it. That said, with payments likely to approach $18 – $20B in FY 22, it not implausible that Google could revisit its strategy.

Source: Apple 3.0

Tsing Mui
News poster at The FPS Review.

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