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Google search executive worried about Amazon, TikTok enticing users

ANN/THE STAR – The chief of Google’s search division expressed his deep apprehension about Amazon.com Inc, revealing it keeps him up at night due to the company’s loss of users to the online retail giant and emerging apps like ByteDance Ltd’s TikTok.

During his testimony as part of the United States Justice Department’s antitrust case against Google, Google’s Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan noted that younger demographics, in particular, are gravitating towards apps like TikTok, as well as those offered by Meta Platforms Inc, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, where they typically spend an average of four hours each day.

“I feel a keen sense not to become the next roadkill,” said Raghavan, one of the first employees the Alphabet Inc unit has called in its defence.

“For young people, Grandpa Google knows the answer and will help you with homework. But when it comes to doing interesting things, they like to start elsewhere”.

The Justice Department rested its case last week, arguing that Google illegally maintains a monopoly in online search by paying more than USD10 billion a year to tech rivals, smartphone makers and wireless providers in exchange for being set as the pre-selected default on mobile phones and web browsers.

Google, in part through Raghavan’s testimony, argues that the company faces staunch competition from not only other search engines but other online sites that young people engage with for everything from entertainment to shopping to cooking.

Raghavan’s testimony served as a rebuttal to the idea that Google could be a one-stop shop for Internet search, an argument made earlier in the trial by Justice Department witnesses, including Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella United States versus Google, which is expected to last 10 weeks, is the government’s biggest tech monopoly trial of the last two decades.

Raghavan underscored that Google was at risk of losing market share to apps like TikTok and Instagram, particularly because engaging with them diverges so sharply from traditional online search behaviour – going to a search engine via a web browser, and typing a query.

“The fastest growing section of queries is young people using their camera to point to things,” Raghavan said on the witness stand.

The Google page is shown on a screen. PHOTO: THE STAR
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