- Google's early efforts to get its Chrome browser ahead of Microsoft's Internet Explorer involved a promotion on Google.com.
- Some employees weren't happy about it, newly surfaced emails reveal.
- "I find the very, very high-profile promotion of Google Chrome on Google.com quite frankly, startling," wrote one employee, in an email obtained by the House antitrust subcommittee.
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Before he was Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai was best known for turning Chrome into the world's most popular web browser – but the methods Google used to get ahead of its rivals are currently under scrutiny.
This week, the House antitrust subcommittee released the findings of an investigation into anti-competitive practices across Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. The 449-page document accuses Google of being "an ecosystem of interlocking monopolies" and an "overwhelmingly dominant" online search provider.
One of the report's many conclusions is that Google has used its dominance in one market to favor its own products, with its Chrome web browser being one example.
The report highlighted how Google began promoting its Chrome browser at the top corner of the Google.com homepage in 2009 in an effort to get Internet Explorer users to switch.
It also revealed that not all employees were happy about it.
"I find the very, very high-profile promotion of Google Chrome on Google.com quite frankly, startling," read one email between Chrome employees from 2009, which was obtained by the committee and cited in the report.
In another piece of correspondence from 2009, Pichai, who was vice president of product development at the time, told employees to "promote through Google.com" and to push users to set Chrome as their default browser.
Further documents confirmed that the web promotion performed well for Google at the time, driving "a tremendous number of downloads," according to one email.
The report alleges that Google saw the growing importance of Chrome for the company's overall success, with then-CEO Eric Schmidt telling employees that the browser would be a primary portal to cloud services.
This was despite Google later telling the Justice Department's Antitrust Division in a 2019 presentation that Chrome was launched "as a defensive move to protect users' access to Google's products," according to the report.
In a statement responding to the overall conclusions of the antitrust documents, a Google spokesperson said that Google's products "help millions of Americans."
"We compete fairly in a fast-moving and highly competitive industry. We disagree with today's reports, which feature outdated and inaccurate allegations from commercial rivals about Search and other services," they added.
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