Alphabet, one of the most important tech companies of all time suffered a major setback as their stocks plunged on April 17th. Alphabet which is the parent company of Google has held a significant position in the market from a long time. However, in the recent years, Google has been under scrutiny for alleged anti-competitive behavior. Under the Republican administration led by President Donald Trump, the Department of Justice had filed an antitrust lawsuit against the tech giant claiming that it has been using unfair means to maintain superiority in the market. Last week, Google had also challenged the lawsuit and asked a judge to toss it claiming that it had no grounds but to no avail. Earlier, the European Union had also investigated the tech company for similar reasons.
The reason that is currently being cited for the drop in the value of Alphabet stocks is a report claiming that the South Korean electronics goliath, Samsung has started considering Bing as a probable replacement for Google as the primary search engine in their devices.
The lawsuit which was a result of several investigations by the government of the United States cited the deals that Google had made with Apple and other smartphone manufacturing companies. Google had a set up with major smartphone manufacturers as a part of which Google paid them millions of dollars to set ‘Google Chrome’ as the default browser in their devices (phones, tablets, laptops, etc). A similar deal with Apple was the reason why iPhones had Google as their default browser. All phones which use the android operating system (which is manufactured by Google) also come with the company’s browser as their default.
While Google claimed that none of its deals were illegal or unfair to its rivals, the Justice Department argued that it was harmful to their customers and rivals. Google’s argument stood on the premise that other search engines were also equally accessible. They believed that the only reason for their good standing in the market was them being better than other providers of similar services.
It is possible that the lawsuit could have encouraged Samsung to consider other alternatives to Google. Earlier this year, Microsoft had integrated OpenAI’s ChatGPT with Bing. Therefore, Microsoft’s Bing offered a good future partner. There are reports which claim that Samsung, a prominent partner of Google in its search engine deals, is now considering Bing as an alternative to its previous default search engine.
Implications for Google:
Samsung is a major smartphone manufacturer and a change in the default browser of its devices could lead to massive losses for Google. Unlike the United States where Apple is the primary choice of smartphone users, Samsung has an undefeated ground in all Asian countries. Although, Bing which earlier held only about 3 percent of the search engine market as compared to Google’s massive 90 percent, if Samsung were to confirm the claims of the report, it could signal towards a turning point in the search engine sector. The implications of such an action by Samsung would not only change things for the search engines but also the companies that run them. This could prove to be very beneficial for Microsoft. If implemented, such a deal could result in an annual revenue loss of about 3 billion dollars for Alphabet.
It is worth noting that Samsung has not confirmed any of these reports as of now. Microsoft too has not given an official statement on the matter. Regardless of whether the claims are speculations or about to come changes, these claims have surely affected Alphabet’s shares which saw a 4% slid in their stock prices. If Samsung does switch to Bing, it would definitely affect Google’s long held monopoly in the search engine market.