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Sundar Pichai to downplay competition concerns in US Big Tech antitrust testimony

Sundar Pichai

In an antitrust hearing in the US on Wednesday, Google and its parent company Alphabet’s CEO Sundar Pichai will downplay concerns on the internet giant’s market dominance, his prepared remarks show. “Google operates in highly competitive and dynamic global markets, in which prices are free or falling, and products are constantly improving. Today’s competitive landscape looks nothing like it did 5 years ago, let alone 21 years ago, when Google launched its first product, Google Search,” Pichai will argue.

“You can ask Alexa a question from your kitchen; read your news on Twitter; ask friends for information via WhatsApp; and get recommendations on Snapchat or Pinterest,” Pichai is set to say — though it’s worth noting that discovery and search are closely related but distinct, and no one entity has captured discovery quite as profoundly as Google has dominated search over the last decade and a half. “Similarly, in areas like travel and real estate, Google faces strong competition for search queries from many businesses that are experts in these areas,” Pichai added.

Pichai will also cite competition in the online advertising market, which he said was competitive enough to benefit ad buyers: “For example, competition in ads — from Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Comcast and others — has helped lower online advertising costs by 40% over the last 10 years, with these savings passed down to consumers through lower prices,” he will say.

“Using Android — a product I worked on for many years — thousands of device makers and mobile operators build and sell devices without any licensing fees to us or any requirement to integrate our products,” Pichai said. Here it’s worth noting that while Google does open-source Android for the most part, it has required phone makers to pre-install a suite of Google apps on phones as a condition for hardware makers to include the Play Store, which is not easy for users to install on their own, or faced with significant competitors outside China.

Pichai — who is likely to face tough questioning from lawmakers after his opening remarks — will be testifying along with three other Big Tech CEOs: Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Apple’s Tim Cook. The hearing will take place on Wednesday night at 9:30pm Indian time, and can be livestreamed here. The US House of Representatives’ subcommittee on antitrust will be questioning the four CEOs on the market dominance of their companies.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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