The U.S. Justice Department has initiated an antitrust trial, which involves scrutinising billion-dollar deals between Google and mobile carriers, among others, that secured Google’s position as the default search engine. The trial, which is being closely watched, is delving into Google’s alleged payments of US$10 billion annually to wireless firms, device manufacturers like Apple, and browser creators like Mozilla to maintain its search engine’s dominant market share, which hovers around 90%.

Chris Barton, a former Google executive who was responsible for managing Google’s partnerships with mobile carriers like Verizon and AT&T, was questioned during the trial. Barton, who worked at Google from 2004 to 2011, highlighted the company’s early recognition of the potential of Google search on mobile devices.

The U.S. government argues that Google manipulated internet ad auctions to inflate prices for advertisers as it primarily generates revenue through advertising. Google contends that it did not break the law and that its popular search engine’s success is rooted in its quality, with the payments to partners being reasonable compensation.

This antitrust trial carries significant implications for the tech industry, particularly Big Tech companies accused of stifling competition. The trial is a rare occurrence in the tech world, with the last major antitrust trials involving Microsoft in 1998 and AT&T in 1974. The outcome could shape the future of the internet and competition within the sector.

The case will be decided by Judge Amit Mehta, who will determine whether Google violated the law and, if so, what remedies or penalties are appropriate. Possible outcomes include ordering Google to cease illegal practices or even divestiture of assets.