The stars have aligned for an Apple search engine to make its debut.
Apple already has one of the world’s largest search engines. The App Store — where we invariably wind up to download Robinhood, Calm, and TikTok— is one of the most-used search engines out there.
But Apple is taking it one step further. As we speak, Apple is in the process of creating a web search engine. We’re already seeing how this would work with new features like linking to external websites from iPhone home screen queries, Siri, and, the App Store.
Sunset on Google’s Long-Held Monopoly
In the U.S., Google accounts for over 92% of online searches. Search — specifically Google Ads — has been a cash cow for close to a decade and a half.
Google’s hegemony may be in its twilight years.
In late 2020, the U.S. justice department sued Google, critiquing the search giant for “unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets.”
In addition to sustaining its chokehold on advertising and acting as the self-appointed bouncer of the Internet, Google has been accused by the Department of Justice of providing a worse user experience.
Few would disagree with this statement, though we may soon be lucky enough to put the DOJ’s theories to the test.
A Worthy Opponent Emerges: Apple Search Engine
The question isn’t why Apple is releasing a search engine, but why not?
Why would Apple continue to allow Google to monopolize search when the majority of their American customers are browsing from Apple products?
When Google is busted by the DOJ for monopolizing advertising revenue, why would Apple — a company with a strong existing search department—not rise to compete?
As usual, Apple is way ahead of us. In 2018, Apple poached Google’s head of search, John Giannandre. Though Giannadre’s official title at Apple is “Senior Vice President of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence Strategy,” Siri is but a stone’s throw away from search.
Apple Search Would Be Different, Not Better
Apple and Google have fundamentally different philosophies:
- Apple prioritizes design and usability. This translates to less functionality but crisp user interfaces that just about anyone can enjoy. More than enjoy: Apple products are so sleek that we covet them.
- With strong engineering talent, Google has some fabulous products (Gmail, Google Search, Android, Chrome). However, Google design (try using Google Drive on your phone or distinguishing between their new terrible icons) leaves much to be desire.
Apple is also used to getting a substantial cut — a whopping 30% — of App profits. Don’t expect an Apple search engine to be more democratic toward small businesses and advertisers than Google Ads.
Apple Search Would Solidify Apple’s Bid to Be Internet Gatekeeper
Apple has attacked the lucrative world of digital marketing from all sides — starting with its push for privacy. The upcoming iPhone will have a privacy app that details which apps are collecting users’ data and what exactly they’re collecting.
Though Google has announced a similar feature for Android, make no mistake that Google is among Apple’s targets, along with Facebook. Google records every search that you perform, every YouTube video that you watch, and even allows third-party app developers to read your emails.
Added bonus: Apple is seen as the good guy as Americans become increasingly aware of online privacy concerns, all while hurting Google and Facebook’s bottom lines. Win, win.
An Apple Search Engine Would Make Google Better
It is far from over for Google, owner of two of the largest search engines (if you include YouTube, as you should). Though Apple search has yet to make its debut, Google has made some significant changes (perhaps preemptively) to its platform in 2021 alone, including:
- The Google Core Web Vitals Update, which encourages websites to be fast, lean, and not have annoying issues like CLS (cumulative layout shift).
- Its partnership with Shopify to facilitate product listings from smaller businesses on Google Shopping.
- Removal of the AMP mandate for Google News, which controversially mandated that publishers use Google’s own technology.
As we Americans are prone to forget, Android represents over 71% of the mobile operating systems market worldwide. Though Apple’s overseas market is growing, Google could easily blackball an Apple search engine — though undoubtedly not under the DOJ’s watchful eye.