Apple Cooks Google's Goose

October 29, 2020

The Financial Times reported that Apple is developing their own search engine.  Ok, what’s going on here?  Google controls 90% of search so what’s the point?

Well, let’s start with the moneyThe rumor is that Google pays Apple anywhere from $8 to 12 billion per year to make Google the default search engine in iOS.  And those payments are a big part of the government’s antitrust lawsuit against Google.

As we all know, Apple likes to control the whole ecosystem from chips to software.  That’s the way they’ve worked from the start, but they obviously have stuck with Google for over a decade now.

But if as a result of the antitrust case, the payments from Google are affected, or Apple has to offer a choice of search engines, then creating your own search engine makes sense for Apple.

What steps have been taken by Apple to build a search engine?

  • Apple poached Google’s head of search, John Giannandrea two years ago.
  • In the new version of iOS 14, Apple is showing its own search results and linking directly to websites from queries on the home screen.
  • Apple is aggressively advertising for jobs in search to “define and implement the architectures of Appl’s groundbreaking search technology.”
  • There has been increased activity from the Applebot, the web crawler that gets the data to build a search engine.

Google has a major head start if not an insurmountable lead

According to Dan Wang, a professor at Columbia Business School, “Google gets hundreds of millions of queries every minute from users all over the world — that’s an enormous advantage when it comes to data.”  And Google has been at this game for a while.  But Apple has the unique ability to gather data and learn from user behavior at scale, so we can only wait and see.

It’s just another wall in Apple’s walled garden, after all.

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