Indicators suggest that Apple are planning to create their own search engine to rival Google. We delve into what plans they’ve made so far.

In the world of search engines, Google is pretty much untouchable. While Bing and Yahoo Search market themselves as viable alternatives, neither can hold a candle to Google in terms of popularity and notoriety. In the US, Bing and Yahoo account for less than 5% of the mobile search market, with Google making up the other 95%.

But could that be about to change? Mobile browsing is a big part of Google’s overall use, and a significant portion of their mobile success comes from the fact that it is the default search engine for iPhone. Over the years, Google has paid billions to be the main source of information for iPhone customers, but that relationship could be changing sooner rather than later.

Evidence suggests that Apple may be in the process of building their own search engine to rival Google. Here’s all the information you need.

What do we know?

So what evidence do we have that Apple has a search engine in the works?

First of all, Coywolf’s Jon Henshaw pointed out in a recent blog post that Apple has been listing more job announcements for search engineers, including for Apple Maps. What’s more, in iOS 14, Spotlight Search almost entirely bypasses Google search results. The company has also update its webcrawler support page with new information about how it ranks results, with Applebot reportedly crawling sites more regularly.

Europe has recent seen a rise in distrust against default search engines on Android phones, compelling Google to create a ‘search choice’ screen for Android users when they set up a new device. The aim of this is to give users an option to select an alternative to Google.

For iPhone, things are a little different. There is a search choice for Apple users — Google, Bing, yahoo or DuckDuckGo — but the vast majority of people stick to Google. In 2013, Apple made Bing the default search engine for Siri but not for Safari, but Google replaced Bing as Siri’s go-to search engine in 2017.

Why are Apple taking on Google?

Some people may wonder why Apple are bothering to create a search engine in the first place. The answer is most likely for the same reach that they ultimately launched their own mapping application. It’s a strategic step that allows the company to better control the user experience and showcase content and apps on their mobile devices. Apple can also provide on-device and web search capability, which Google cannot offer on the iPhone.

And Apple and Google haven’t always been fully supportive of each other. It may feel like a lifetime ago, but there was a time when Google saw the very concept of apps as a threat. They decried mobile apps as the death of the open web, and tried several tactics to get people to use the mobile web instead. Nowadays, Apple and Google often have rival versions of similar apps available on Apple and Android devices.

What does this mean for competitors?

Although there is no hard evidence for how well an Apple search engine would perform, it’s not such an outrageous concept to assume it could become the number two mobile search engine, and a genuine threat to Google.

Given the popularity of Apple devices, many people will turn to an Apple search engine simply because it comes as the default option on their preferred smartphone brand. Safari is already the most popular mobile browser out there, with Chrome coming in second.

However, in order to get a clearer idea of how big an Apple search engine could be, we’d need to know more about how extensive or far-reaching their ambitions are. There is potential to create a more integrated experience for Apple users if Siri results, Spotlight Search and the Safari browser all become more unified under a single search umbrella.

Chances are an Apple search engine would not be good news for smaller search options like DuckDuckGo, Alternative search engines tend to market themselves on the basis of being more privacy-friendly, or ad-free. However, Apple has been heavily marketing privacy as a differentiator for its products for a while, and has a much bigger soapbox to shout from.

Why it matters

The industry as it stands is almost entirely dominated by Google. It is the seemingly unstoppable behemoth of online searches, so it would be refreshing to see a strong search competitor enter the fray.

What’s more, an Apple search engine wouldn’t necessarily be a terrible thing for Google. For one thing, the brand could stop paying billions to Apple without suffering significantly or creating bad blood. Plus, it could also point to Apple as a strong competitor in antitrust cases, taking some of the heat off their own back.

A lot of this remains to be seen, but the fact remains that Apple now has an opportunity to give Google a run for its money. What we don’t know is whether Apple will truly rise to this challenge, or whether they will create what is ultimately a mediocre or half-baked experience that doesn’t sway the masses, as was the case with their maps endeavour. Only time will tell. Do you own an e-commerce business? Are you looking for help with your paid search? Headland Marketing can offer the support you need. Find out more by clicking here.