Google is shelling out billions to remain the default search engine for Apple's Safari browser
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Google is easily the most popular search engine in use today, but its ubiquity comes at a cost. According to a Business Insider report, the “Sultan of Search” will pay Apple US $9 billion this year to keep Google as the default search engine for the Safari browser. While that price seems high, the same report states that the cost will increase to $12 billion in 2019.
Google paying for preference is nothing new. The company has been paying Apple for the privilege of being Safari’s default search engine for years. However, Apple seems to know how valuable that position is to Google. Back in 2014 (the most recent year with hard numbers for this kind of deal), Google paid $1 billion for Safari’s prime real estate. That was only four years ago; the price has steeply increased and looks to grow more expensive.
Apple knows it’s sitting on a gold mine. After all, Safari is the only browser built into Apple’s devices, including Macs and iPhones. Apple users are also less likely to switch away from their default browser than PC or Android users. Microsoft’s Edge has lost a lot of ground to the likes of Google Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox, and recent practices of the browser haven’t helped its case. Safari is a different beast, though. Since Apple fully controls the software ecosystem and hardware of its devices, Safari is well-tuned for speedy, efficient browsing.
The growing popularity of iDevices, especially in burgeoning markets like China, seems to make the cost of entry worth its weight in gold to Google. Search is still Google’s bread and butter when it comes to revenue, and being the default search engine for the default browser on devices that are reaching more and more markets every quarter is a prime place to be. Plus, $9 billion is a drop in the bucket when you’re as big as Google. It looks like Google and Safari will continue their profitable union. At least until Apple makes their own search engine.