As the Justice Department's antitrust case against Google continues, new details have emerged about the company's relationship with Apple. This time, testimony from Google CEO Sundar Pichai revealed that Google once approached Tim Cook about creating a version of the Google Search app that would be pre-loaded on every iPhone.
These details were revealed during Pichai's testimony based on emails and meeting minutes from Don Harrison, Google's head of partnerships. connections. Harrison emphasized in his notes that Google “does not control the amount or type of traffic Safari receives; Apple.”
One feature that Google pointed out was a recent change to Siri called “Siri Suggestions.” This feature, Google told Apple, could reduce the number of searches from iPhone users by providing too much information without sending users actual Google search results.
Pichai, who revealed that he dates Tim Cook about once a year, while discussing their partnership, an idea arose that could be mutually beneficial. During one such meeting, Cook told Pichai that he believed Apple and Google should be “deep, deep partners, intimately connected where our services end and yours begin.”
“We said “that one of the things that works well on Android and is driving increased usage is the Google Search app,” Pichai said. “So I proposed creating a Google search app for iOS… and we will support this product for many years.”
According to emails from Harrison, the purpose of this app was: The company's goal was to create something that people would associate with Google, instead of Apple focusing on Siri and Spotlight search results. “People trust that we get it right and trust us to deliver what they are looking for,” Harrison wrote in an email.
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What is clear, however, is that Pichai wanted something from Google pre-loaded on every iPhone.
iPhone OS 1.0 included Google Maps and YouTube built-in at launch, and these apps remained in the main OS for five years until Apple removed YouTube and launched Apple Maps in iOS 6.
That's when Apple launched deep Facebook integration with iOS, which also persisted for five years before Apple removed it from iOS 11. A year earlier, Apple included deep Twitter integration with iOS 5, which was later removed in iOS 11.
The idea that these big tech companies are working together because it's mutually beneficial is not some “bold” or crazy concept that should be used to ridicule Pichai or force For Google to appear authoritative or nefarious, there is plenty of precedent for Apple creating OS-level integration for large and popular third-party services.
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“Tim listened to it, but didn't respond to it specifically, other than that he noted that we have different strengths,” Harrison wrote in his notes describing the meeting between Pichai and Cook.
Google already has a dedicated app for iPhone and iPad, but Pichai’s idea seemed to be was to make something that was more integrated with the overall iOS experience. It's unclear whether this will come as a dedicated app or integration with Siri and/or Spotlight Search. One thing is clear, though: Pichai wanted something from Google to come pre-loaded on every iPhone.
A deal like this would be mutually beneficial. Google will get more search revenue, and Apple will get a cut of all that revenue. However, Tim Cook wasn't interested.
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