Apple Gearing Up To Take On Google Search?

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For over a decade Google has been enjoying undisputed dominance in Search space. With over 92% share Google Search has remained to be the first choice for internet users looking for information or data. However, the equation may change soon!

A number of developers have witnessed a sudden spike in the activity from Apple’s web crawler, triggering speculations about the possible development of a full-fledged search engine eventually.

All of it started with a blog post from Jon Henshaw, founder of digital marketing insights firm Coywolf, who noticed daily crawling of his website by Apple crawlers. Earlier such aggressive crawling of his website was never witnessed.

John is not alone!

Nick Cravar and Michael James, engineers at Stack Overflow, also noticed the similar change in the crawling behaviour of Applebots on websites they oversee. Both of them reported the surprising spike in Applebots activities on Twitter.

All of it quickly turned into a massive debate over Twitter, and the majority of users have formed a view of Apple gearing up to launch its own search engine in the months to come.

Applebots are no different than any other web crawlers. It scans the web to understand how a website must be ranked. It reads content, title and mentioned keywords, number of links every page has and a lot of other metadata of web pages to determine how a website must rank and respond to search queries fired by internet users.

The sudden increase in the daily activity of Applebots has left many users wondering what is Apple up to.

Apple Search Engine: Nothing But Speculation?

While many users believe that Apple could possibly, and silently, be working on a search engine, there are people who are sceptical about the Apple search engine theory. They have a view that sudden change in Applebot’s behaviour could be due to Apple’s effort to improve Siri and Spotlight search result.

While no one can say for sure what Tim Cook is cooking at Apple’s HQ but given the style of Apple’s working, it could be anything. Apple invests a huge amount in R&D every year on experimenting with different products and offerings but only a fraction of those become a reality. For example, Apple works on at least 8-9 different type of iPhone models simultaneously every year but only 2-3 become reality.

Besides, Apple’s business model also contradicts the theory of Apple search engine that could be placed in the market to counter Google search. Unlike Google and Facebook, Apple never believed in advertising or data-driven business model and placed itself as a privacy-first company. To play search engine game, and to capture a sizeable share of the market, Apple must track and rely on users data to monetise traffic via targeted ads. Unless Apple has planned something different, like DuckDuckGo, the chances of Apple search engine becoming a reality looks quick bleak.

This is not the first time when discussions about the Apple search engine has taken place. When Apple first confirmed Applebot in 2015, users were quick to start speculating about the existence of Apple search engine in future.

Once again, such discussions are making rounds on the internet but given the changed strategy that Apple has employed to strengthen its market presence, it’s difficult to reject the theory of Apple search engine, completely.

Unlike 2015, Apple’s is now more focused on services and to end the dependency on one product – iPhone. In the last two years, while Apple’s revenue continued to increase the revenue contribution of iPhone has declined. On the other hand, Apple is slowly strengthening its service offerings which have started paying off well. Between 2015 and 2019 Apple’s revenue from services has more than doubled while iPhone revenue has stagnated.

Such a shift in Apple’s revenue hints a lot about Apple’s go-to-market strategy in recent years. Apple search engine could possibly be a part of the changed strategy that has already started bearing fruits for the world’s most valued publicly-traded company.

All said and done, it’s hard to be certain about Apple search engine at this stage, especially when there is not enough information available. Whatever be the case, Apple is surely looking to strengthen its services offerings, be it in the form of the speculated search engine or Siri or Spotlight.

What’s your take on the development? Do you think it makes sense for Apple to jump into the advertising business to end the monopoly of Google and Facebook? Do let us know your views in the comment section below.


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