Apple is reportedly exploring the possibility of creating its own search engine, potentially ending its long-standing reliance on Google as the default search engine for its devices. The move comes amidst ongoing antitrust concerns surrounding Google’s dominance in the online search and advertising markets, a topic that Apple has been drawn into as a witness in recent legal proceedings.
Challenging Google’s Dominance
For over a decade, Google has enjoyed its position as the default search engine on Apple’s iPhone, a lucrative partnership that sees Google allegedly paying Apple a staggering $8 billion to $12 billion annually. However, this partnership has been under scrutiny by US authorities, who accuse Google of maintaining a monopoly in online search and advertising. In response to these concerns, Apple is reportedly considering developing its own search engine.
The Potential of Apple’s Search Engine
Mark Gurman, in his Power On newsletter, argues that Apple has all the necessary elements to create a formidable search engine. Gurman suggests that if Apple were to launch its own search engine, it could potentially generate advertising revenue that rivals the income from its popular Apple Watch market. While Gurman acknowledges this move as a “long shot,” he points out that Apple has already incorporated search engines into various services, including the App Store, Maps, Apple TV, and News.
Apple’s Ongoing Efforts in Search Technology
Apple’s potential venture into the search engine space has been met with speculation. The company has reportedly been working on a next-generation search engine codenamed Pegasus, overseen by John Giannandrea, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Machine Learning and AI. This advanced technology promises more accurate search results and has already found its way into some Apple apps. There is also speculation that Pegasus technology could eventually be integrated into the App Store.
Apple has not limited its exploration to external search engines. The company has been enhancing its internal search feature, Spotlight, to assist iOS users in finding content on their devices. Spotlight has begun incorporating web search results in recent years, primarily provided by Bing or Google.
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Apple’s Involvement in the Google Antitrust Lawsuit
Apple’s potential move into the search engine space coincides with its involvement in the ongoing antitrust lawsuit against Google. The US Department of Justice has accused Google of monopolizing online search and advertising, and Apple has been called in as a witness due to its multibillion-dollar deal with Google, making it the default search engine on iPhones.
During the lawsuit proceedings, John Giannandrea revealed a significant development in Apple’s iOS 17. Users will now have the option to change their default search engine for private browsing mode in Safari. This change allows users to have different search engines set for regular browsing and private browsing, potentially reducing their dependence on Google for search functionality.