Apple reportedly ramps up search engine development

Apple risks losing $12 billion in annual revenue if Google contract isn’t renewed due to antitrust restrictions

Apple sign on the side of a building

Apple’s ramping up its efforts to create its own search engine to possibly compete with Google, according to a Financial Times (FT) report. If true, this would indicate Apple’s estimated $8-$12 billion per year to make Google the default search engine on iOS devices is in jeopardy.

Last week the US Department of Justice (DoJ) charged Google with multiple antitrust violations. The charges claim that Google has a number of agreements that have locked up “the primary avenues through which users access search engines.” The deal with Apple is likely under scrutiny too. If the antitrust case prevents Google and Apple from renewing this deal, this would be a prime opportunity for Apple to launch its own search engine.

Apple confirmed the Applebot Crawler’s existence as far back as 2015. The FT report claims that in a new iPhone update, Apple is starting to show its own search results and link directly to websites when users search from the home screen. This small step could indicate advancement in Apple’s search capabilities and hint at a larger move to come. 

This is still just speculation based on what Apple could do, but Apple has shown disdain for ad-funded services like Google. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, issued an open letter to customers in 2014 that read,  “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.”

Apple lured Google’s head of search John Giannandrea to the company in April 2018. The FT also quotes two former Google execs who believe Apple’s in a position to expand into search and has the capability.

All this recent activity at Apple could be a push to improve Siri, but the possibility of losing up to $12 billion annually lends credence to the speculation that an Apple search engine could be in development.

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