It’s that time again: After unsuccessful attempts by Microsoft, the French search engine Qwant and the alleged Google Killer Cuil we can look forward to a little competition for Google’s search engine soon. Because in the last few days, more and more speculations about the new search engines from Apple emerge. The Silicon Valley company is notorious for its internal projects, and now there are increasing signs that Apple is working to build a competitor for Google’s search engine.
Is the Apple search engine really coming?
Apple has been working in the background on its own search engine for several years. The first indications of this appeared several years ago on job exchanges in which Apple was apparently looking for developers with the necessary skills to build a search engine.
So far, however, it is unclear whether this is just an integrated search for Siri and Spotlight, or whether Apple actually dares to venture into the web with its own search engine. Two and a half years ago, Apple poached Google search chief John Giannandrea.
The hiring was supposed to strengthen his artificial intelligence skills and his virtual assistant Siri, but also brought eight years of experience operating the world’s most popular search engine.
Bit by bit, Siri’s search functionality and the integrated Spotlight search in OS X have been extended to the web, thereby avoiding a search on Google more and more frequently.
The company has also updated its web crawler support page (Applebot) in the past few days with new information on how it ranks the results, and Applebot has reportedly started crawling websites more regularly.
Google still pays billions of euros a year for integration as a standard search engine in Apple’s operating systems for iPhones and iPads, but Apple is anything but dependent on the money from Mountainview. After all, they have several billion US dollars in reserves themselves, which should easily be enough for the development of the necessary technologies.
Apple is now apparently stepping up its efforts to develop its own search technology since after the lawsuit by the US antitrust authorities; there is now apparently threatening proceedings, which could prohibit the billion-dollar payments from Google to Apple, which makes Google the default search engine on the iPhone.
According to the DOJ, this integration secures about half of Google’s US traffic and up to 20% of Apple’s profits!
In Europe, too, there has been a lot of antitrust and regulatory activity recently around standard search on Android devices. Google was forced to create a “search select” screen for Android users when setting up a new device. While this is controversial, it is intended to give users the option to choose an alternative to Google and increase competitors’ market share. However, this does not mean that it will actually happen. While there is a choice of search engines on the iPhone, namely Google, Bing, Yahoo, or DuckDuckGo, the overwhelming majority of users do not choose any of these alternatives.
On the other hand, Apple could simply declare its own search engine standard in Safari, macOS, iOS, and iPad OS. In recent years, Apple has managed to position itself as a secure, data protection-sensitive choice. From this corner, it could convince one or the other customer of the advantages of its own search technology.
In a previously neglected change in the latest version of the iPhone operating system, iOS 14, Apple has now started displaying its own search results and linking them directly to websites when users enter queries via the search widget on the home screen!