Coywolf reported in August 2020 that Apple might launch a search engine to compete against Google. The recently announced DoJ antitrust suit against Google has renewed that speculation. Tim Bradshaw and Patrick McGee reported in the Financial Times that Apple is exploring building a search engine as more scrutiny is put on their relationship with Google. They stated that with the suit, “urgency was added to the initiative.”
Bradshaw and McGee interviewed industry insider Bill Coughran, Google’s former engineering chief, and he stated that he thought it was possible.
“They [Apple] have a credible team that I think has the experience and the depth, if they wanted to, to build a more general search engine.”Bill Coughran, Apple develops alternative to Google search
They also spoke to Sharis Pozen, former acting assistant attorney-general at the DOJ. She told them that “the DOJ could demand an end to the exclusive agreement.” That would provide an opportunity for Apple to introduce its search engine. However, it may also put pressure on Apple to prompt users to choose a search engine versus making theirs the default.
As I stated in Coywolf’s previous coverage, Apple has a lot to gain from launching a search engine. Some of the main benefits include:
- The promotion of apps in search results will benefit Apple’s services and detract from Google’s push towards PWAs.
- A weakening of Google’s monopoly on search and a significant blow to its ad revenue and data mining.
- The promotion of Apple products and services. Including struggling services like Apple News+ and Apple TV+.
- Continued control and lockdown of the Apple ecosystem. Users will become dependent on personalized search results with deep service and product integrations that are only possible via their search engine.
- The extension of their ad serving platform will allow app developers to promote their apps in search results.
Ultimately though, Apple’s search engine may not be what we’re expecting. It’s possible that users will be using it and not even be aware of it. It could be so tightly integrated into the operating system and native apps that it slowly steals away queries that would have otherwise been searched on Google.