Apple accelerates efforts towards building its own search engine to replace Google
Apple is said to be accelerating efforts towards its own search engine, to be rolled out on its products instead of Google. Reports suggest that Apple is moving quickly to avoid being mired in the upcoming anti-trust action being taken against Google by the US Government.
There’s already early evidence of the move in iOS14, launched last month, where Apple’s own search results appear when using the device’s home screen search box. The bottom line is, if Apple can do that, it can produce an entire search engine, and if it has gotten this far, it suggests that’s what the end-game will be.
There’s nothing on the subject from Apple – but then there rarely is until something is launched. The FT report suggests that the hiring of John Giannandrea, Google’s former Head of Search in 2018 could have fired the starting gun on the project, which could also see Siri functionality improved by parsing from a dedicated search tool. It also points to repeated job advertisements for search-related developers as a dead-giveaway. Additionally, those monitoring Applebot, Apple’s web-crawler have said it has been more active in recent months, suggesting that it has advanced from simply serving Siri and Spotlight results.
Apple is currently paid between $8 billion and $12 billion each year, by Google, to be the default search engine for Apple products. That hasn’t gone unnoticed by the litigators involved in Google’s forthcoming anti-trust battle with the US Department of Justice, who listed the agreement as an example of anti-competitive and exclusionary practice by the tech giant. Although Apple is the beneficiary, not the accused, it has been criticized for acting as Google’s “enabler” by accepting the terms.
Although Google’s DoJ fight is likely to go on for years, Apple will be acutely aware that, if it doesn’t go Google’s way, Google could find itself broken up or otherwise restricted. And that could leave Apple’s annual multi-billion dollar windfall in jeopardy. So it makes sense that $2 trillion company has opted to be safe rather than sorry.