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Apple could be working on its own search engine to replace Google

By Samuel Martinez October 28, 2020, 9:00 pm
Apple EU antitrust

It seems that Apple has already started to think of alternatives to replace Google as the primary search engine in its devices. Google currently pays Apple around $12 billion a year to be the main search provider in iPhones, iPads, and more, but this deal will expire soon, and the latest antitrust case against Google by the US Department of Justice may block Apple and Google from closing an extension.

According to a report from the Financial Times, Apple is working hard to create its own search engine as it may soon lose Google, and the estimated $8-12 billion the company pays Cupertino to be the default search engine in its devices. We could say that this translates to around 20 percent of Apple’s Services income each year. However, the US Department of Justice believes that this may be anticompetitive, and it may block an extension of the deal between Apple and Google.


If this deal is blocked, Apple may be forced to create its own search engine, and that’s when we focus on Applebot, which is “the web crawler for Apple, used by products including Siri and Spotlight Suggestions. It respects customary robots.txt rules and robots meta tags. It originates in the net block.” This information comes from 2015, when Apple was rumored to start working on its own search engine to go against Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Of course, Apple has come a long way since then, and the possibility of a new search engine may not seem so hard to believe. Further, Apple has recently started to link directly to websites, bypassing Google Entirely in iOS 14’s home screen searches.

“Apple is stepping up efforts to develop its own search technology as US antitrust authorities threaten multibillion-dollar payments that Google makes to secure prime placement of its engine on the iPhone.
“In a little-noticed change to the latest version of the iPhone operating system, iOS 14, Apple has begun to show its own search results and link directly to websites when users type queries from its home screen.
“That web search capability marks an important advance in Apple’s in-house development and could form the foundation of a fuller attack on Google, according to several people in the industry.”

Let’s also remember that Apple hired Google’s Sear and Artificial Intelligence chief John Giannandrea almost three years ago, and he is now Senior VP of Machine Learning and AI Strategy at Apple.

“Apple poached Google’s head of search, John Giannandrea. The hire was ostensibly to boost its artificial intelligence capabilities and its Siri virtual assistant, but also brought eight years of experience running the world’s most popular search engine.”

“They [Apple] have a credible team that I think has the experience and the depth, if they wanted to, to build a more general search engine,” said Bill Coughran, Google’s former engineering chief, who is now a partner at Silicon Valley investor Sequoia Capital […]
“Apple’s position is very unique because it has the iPhone and iOS. It controls the default browser,” said Sridhar Ramaswamy, Neeva’s co-founder and Google’s former head of advertising. Expanding in search “feels natural” for Apple, he said, as it has the ability to gather data and learn from user behaviour at large scale.”

It is also said that Applebot’s crawl rate has increased substantially, which is the number of times it visits websites in order to update its database, meaning that Apple may indeed be preparing for a search engine change. We also have to consider that Apple may be one of the few companies with the resources to create a search engine that can go against Google.

The main difference is that Apple may have to find a way to create a successful search engine without building a profile around a user’s browsing habits and the data stored in their devices, especially after Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO once expressed himself saying that:

“A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.
“Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you.”

Source Financial Times

Via GSM Arena


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