Google's Map Traffic Decline Executive Attributes Shift to Apple Maps on iPhones
Google’s Map Traffic Decline Executive Attributes Shift to Apple Maps on iPhones

Two years after Apple Inc. replaced Google Maps with its own app as the default service on iPhones, a Google employee stated in the antitrust trial against Alphabet Inc. that the company had only returned 40% of the mobile traffic it used to have on its mapping service.

Michael Roszak, Google’s vice president for finance, said on Tuesday that the company used Apple’s switch to Maps as “a data point” when trying to predict what would happen if Apple removed Google as the preferred search engine on Safari.

In a June 2020 email to his boss, Roszak told him about how Apple’s change affected how people used Google Maps on iPhones.

“Almost 2 years later, we were at about 40% of the previous peak,” Roszak wrote in an email that was shown in court. “I assumed the actual loss was greater, since Apple Maps use was also growing during this time,” he added. The chart that Roszak sent in an email that showed how iPhone users used Google Maps was taken out of the version of the document that was made public.

The Justice Department says that Google has unfairly kept a monopoly on online search by spending billions of dollars to make sure that its search engine is the default option on web browsers and smartphones. Apple is Google’s biggest customer. Apple made Google the preferred search engine on Safari in exchange for a cut of the money Google makes from ads.

No one knows how much money Google gives Apple for being the default. In its opening statement, the Justice Department said that Google paid between $4 billion and $7 billion for Safari to be the preferred browser in 2020. This caused Apple’s lawyers to protest the next day, since that is a public estimate and not the real number.

Roszak said on Tuesday that he didn’t know if Google keeps track of how many people change their browser’s or phone’s default search engine. He said that the example of Apple Maps was “one data point” that was used to guess how iPhone owners might react to a change in the search setting.

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