Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) discussed using DuckDuckGo to replace Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) as the search option for the private mode for its Safari browser, but eventually decided against the idea, according to publicly revealed testimony.
The discussions between the iPhone maker and DuckDuckGo were revealed after Judge Amit Mehta, who is overseeing the antitrust case between the U.S. Justice Department and Google, decided to unseal testimony from DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg and Apple executive John Giannandrea, Bloomberg reported, citing the testimony.
“We were talking about it, I thought they would launch it,” Weinberg said, according to his testimony. “Multiple times we’ve gotten integrations all the way through the finish line. Really, almost everything we’ve pitched except for search.”
The Justice Department is waging an antitrust case against Google (GOOG) (GOOGL) that its deals with device makers and wireless carriers are against the law.
However, Giannandrea, who is Apple’s senior vice president of Machine Learning and AI Strategy, and reports to Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, said it was “probably a bad idea” to use DuckDuckGo as the private option.
“The motivating factor for setting DuckDuckGo as the default for private browsing was an assumption” the search engine would be more private, Giannandrea said during his testimony.
Earlier this week, Apple disclosed that Cook and a few other executives had sold some stock in the U.S. tech giant.
DuckDuckGo uses Bing for its search information, thus making it likely that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) receives some user information, which the 53-year-old Giannandrea said makes the company’s marketing about the nature of its privacy “somewhat incongruent with the details.”
He added that if Apple (AAPL) really wanted to switch to DuckDuckGo, he said he would “probably insist on doing a lot more due diligence with DuckDuckGo.”
Giannandrea also said that Cook had asked him to speak with Microsoft (MSFT) executives in 2018 about potentially using Bing for Safari and that Microsoft had considered either a joint venture or selling Bing to Apple.
A study was conducted in May 2021 to compare the search results between Bing and Google and it found that Google was better at everything except English language results on desktop, where the two search engines tied, Bloomberg added.
Earlier this week, Microsoft (MSFT) Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella testified at the antitrust hearing that Google (GOOG) (GOOGL) could accelerate its current lead in the search market by using the massive profits it makes from search to pay for exclusive rights to content it can use to make its search artificial intelligence better than rivals.
Last week, Jonathan Tinter, a Microsoft (MSFT) executive said at the trial that the Redmond, Washington-based company considered investing in Apple (AAPL) in 2016 in an effort to make its Bing search engine the default browser on Apple’s Safari web browser.
Tinter added that Satya Nadella and Apple CEO Tim Cook met as part of the discussions and that Microsoft (MSFT) would have taken a loss on the investment, but it would have made Bing more relevant via more market share and revenue.