Google’s sheer dominance over the search industry has remained unchallenged since its inception. But now, Apple is showing serious signs of rolling out their very own search engine and might end up breaking the long-standing monopoly of Google.
The first hint that the world’s most valuable publicly-traded company is seriously considering to build their very own search engine was when Applebots, aka Apple’s web crawlers, were reported to start crawling sites more regularly in almost a hyperactive manner.
Later, the rumours solidified even further when Apple started listing multiple job announcements for search engineers. And lastly, the fact that Spotlight Search in iOS 14 completely bypasses Google results also helped gauge Apple’s seriousness with the development of a search engine.
Now, the question that arrives here is why does it make sense for Apple to build a search engine of its own, especially when Google search is doing a phenomenal job in terms of producing satisfying results for users?
Salvaging Services’ Income From Antitrust Regulators
As of late, U.S antitrust regulators have been putting much emphasis on the deal between Apple and Google wherein the latter is made the default search option on Apple devices for a hefty price tag of $8-$12 billion per year.
According to the regulators, a deal of this nature is hugely anti-competitive. Thus if in the near future, Apple is not allowed to renew the agreement, they will be losing out on quite a humongous sum of income.
In 2018, their deal with Google was pegged at a little under $10 billion, and it contributed 20% to their income from services. The increasing dependency on Google for search needs gives Google an upper hand while negotiating with Apple in the future. Therefore, it makes sense for the iPhone maker to make provisions in advance and create their own search engine before their arrangement with Google goes haywire.
Apple’s Privacy-First Motto
Apple has been riding high on the bandwagon of being a ‘privacy-first’ smartphone manufacturer. They have launched several features which aim to protect their device users from being subjected to unnecessary privacy infringement issues.
Apple’s iOS 14 update even curtailed Facebook’s ability to track user activities across their entire app ecosystem and also all over the internet. If they want to follow down the same road and step their privacy first initiative up a notch then it makes sense for them to introduce their very own search functionality to the Apple ecosystem.
As we are all aware, Google is heavily reliant on revenue from advertisement and thus collects a host of personalized data to target its users. This is something that goes against Apple’s insistence that “privacy is a fundamental human right” and one of their “core values”.
Besides that, with proprietary search functionality, the smartphone manufacturer will not only be able to deliver on a more privacy-focused service but also better control the user experience. That is another huge selling point for Apple.
Strengthening Services Arm
The search engine will open more avenues of revenue for Apple without compromising with its users’ privacy. For the last few years, Apple has been focusing on services like never before. As a result, the company’s revenue from services more than doubled in the last four year, reaching $13.1 billion in fiscal Q3 2020, ended on June 30.
Impact On The Search Industry
While it is too early to make any concrete assumptions about the impact of Apple’s search engine on the worldwide search industry, one can still speculate how it might fair in the space.
Apple’s search engine can very well become the second most popular mobile search engine. Apple Safari browser currently is the most popular mobile browser in the U.S and the second most popular mobile browser with 22% share, worldwide. It’s not hard to assume Apple would leave no stone unturned make its search engine leverage that popularity and rise quickly in the ranks.
Google will not be the only one at the losing end. Other competitors, such as DuckDuckGo or Neeva, an upcoming subscription-based search engine, can suffer heavily if Apple decides to enter the space.
Most of these alternative search engines also ride high on the privacy wave by promising no collection of personal information or being an ad-free platform. However, none of them can compete with the robustness of Apple if they roll out their own search functionality simply because the iPhone maker has already successfully positioned their ecosystem as privacy-first.
Now, it remains to be seen what the future holds for the much-speculated search engine from Apple. In an industry wherein Google established its name as being synonymous to what ‘search’ stands for, it would surely be quite exciting to welcome a newly minted strong contender.
Apple definitely has all the resources and the opportunity to take a shot at Google’s monopoly. Still, the question that remains unanswered is – if the smartphone manufacturer will fully commit to building a robust search experience or simply include a half baked and mediocre search engine into its ecosystem? We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.