Apple has been waging a quiet war on Google for some years now, in particular on its business model, which is based on building up a profile of search engine users and then selling access to that profile to advertisers.
SEO site Coywolf reports that Apple appears to be getting ready to launch a search engine for iPhone and Mac users which may cut Google’s legs from under it on their platform.
Evidence for this is much-increased activity from Apple’s Applebot web crawler, a significant update to the About Applebot support page, adding a section for example that says that they do not just crawl HTML, but also render pages similar to Google, numerous new search engine engineer job openings at Apple and improvements to the Spotlight Search feature on iOS and the Mac.
There has also been regulatory pressure in UK for Apple to drop Google as its default search engine, a position for which Google pays billions each year.
The impact could be dramatic, with most searches currently being done on mobile, and the most profitable users being found on iOS.
Apple is, of course, desperate to continue their growth, and at their size, the best way to do this is to enter and take new markets from other tech companies.
For Apple the benefits are obvious, according to Coywolf:
- The promotion of apps in search results that will benefit Apple’s services and detract from Google’s push towards PWAs.
- A weakening of Google’s monopoly on search and a significant blow to its ad revenue and data mining.
- The promotion of Apple products and services. Including struggling services like Apple News+ and Apple TV+.
- Continued control and lockdown of the Apple ecosystem. Users will become dependent on personalized search results with deep service and product integrations that are only possible via their search engine.
- The extension of their ad serving platform will allow app developers to promote their apps in search results.
Launching a search engine could easily be described as using a monopoly on its platform to enter a new market, similar to Microsoft, for example, launching a new default browser on Windows in the 1990s.
For those who doubt Apple’s ability to displace Google, the unfettered control of their platform has resulted in Apple Maps overtaking Google Maps on iOS in usage, and Apple Music having more paid users in the USA than Spotify, while in both cases offering a worse product.
For Google (and everyone else), the change could be apocalyptic, with Apple gaining exclusive gatekeeping access to the billion richest people in the world, who’s usage tends to subsidize the free services being offered to everyone else.
Read Coywolf’s detailed report on Apple’s possible moves here.
Do our readers think Apple could be about to kneecap Google? Let us know in the comments below.