Right now, Google dominates the search engine market with an over 90% share. Largely because they built a good product. They’ve done so well that they’re now where Microsoft was in the 1990’s; facing anti-trust battles. From the original search engine, Google added other products such as Maps and now Workspaces. Some products like Buzz and Google+ failed. All part of the process. My time with the internet goes back to the days of the AltaVista search engine and when Yahoo! Dominated search. SEO? Unheard of. There were a multitude of search engines. It was a mess but it was also good. It forced innovation and Google won. But Google needs a proper competitor again. Facebook failed. So have others. We need Apple to succeed.
There’s no guarantee that Apple is in fact going to launch a search engine. There’s enough evidence to suggest they’re considering it given their spotted increase in bot activity. The EU and now the U.S. is looking at breaking up Google and they already pay Apple billions of dollars a year to be the default search engine on Apple’s iPhones and iPads. So if Apple were to replace Google with their own search engine, they’ll be looking for a business model that quickly replaces that chunk of lost revenue. Can they? Quite likely.
There is of course, a risk to Apple having its own search engine. That is attracting further attention for anti-trust investigation. It’s already facing a challenge over the App Store and those saying it restricts the market such as the battle over Fortnite. Setting anti-trust issues aside, Apple certainly has the chops to take on Google in the search world. They have the infrastructure, the brand value and of course, a few billion devices to reach instantly.
The main reason I think we need Apple to launch a search engine is the innovation that comes from competition in an open market. This, in some ways would also benefit Google, since they would also be able to claim they aren’t a monopoly and thus bolster their legal argument.
While Google is still innovating and building its own ecosystem of software products including hardware like Google Home, the Pixel smartphone and other home automation devices. Very similar to Apple, so it does make business sense for Apple to also have a search engine.
In my netnographic research projects this year, I’ve noticed increased dissatisfaction with Google from consumers who find such an increase in paid results before organic and the struggle to get content that has been overly optimized. An issue Google works hard to balance.
Regardless of consumer sentiment on these issues, another search engine that could succeed where Bing has failed and Yahoo! has fallen behind, could drive new innovation in ad-driven models, such as DuckDuckGo and how they’ve been able to protect consumer privacy while still generate a profit from advertising. Apple too will have a huge push on privacy, an area Google has struggled to build consumer confidence with.
So an Apple search engine would drive innovation in advertising models, privacy for consumers and quite likely in design and usability as well. Perhaps even Apple Analytics to take on Google Analytics? It may also be that Apple is working on search for an improved version of its productivity suite (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) for a competitive offering to Google Workspaces and may not even be considering a consumer search engine.
But it would be good to have some competition in the market place to see what new innovations in terms of results, business models and UX occurs. What do you think?