Defaults Matter

Alex Pasternack, Fast Company:

The bigger irony is that Google employees’ chat conversations had “history off” set as the default. That explanation dovetails neatly with part of the government’s own argument about Google’s anticompetitive behavior.

Google, argues the DOJ, knows the power of defaults to influence user choice, and was able to maintain its monopoly partly because it weaponized that power, for instance by paying Apple billions a year to make Google the default search on Safari on iPhones. The placement was apparently crucial for Google, which the DOJ estimates controls 89% of the U.S. search market. At trial, it emerged that Apple once tried to divert a fraction of search data to its own search engine, in a possible prelude to competition; Google quickly nixed that.

My “I talk about [Revenue Sharing Agreement] related things all day and I don’t have history on for all my chats :)” t-shirt has people asking a lot of questions already answered by my shirt.

None of the players in the Google antitrust case want any of this stuff public. They are all — including Apple and Samsung — taking extraordinary measures to avoid scrutiny by observers and the press. It appears many of these same businesses have learned from that time executives like Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt conspired to minimize cross-company poaching, proved in part by emails like those from Schmidt which read “I don’t want to create a paper trail over which we can be sued later”.