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Could Apple start its own search engine?

Posted on June 11, 2020

 

The big three tech giants of Apple, Google and Microsoft compete with one another across a variety of products and services, with all of them offering their own mobile phones, internet browsers and app stores.

In the search engine sector, however, only two of the three are involved. Google, which of course began life purely as a search engine before growing into the tech behemoth it is today, is hugely dominant in search, boasting 92.06% of the market share as of May 2020. Microsoft’s Bing is in second place, but with a comparatively miniscule 2.61% of the market, it could be seen as merely the fastest Morris Minor up against Google’s Ferrari. Apple, meanwhile, is nowhere to be seen in the race, and never has been.

An industry analyst has questioned whether it’s time for that to change, and for Apple to either create a search engine of its own or, more likely, acquire one. In a report cited by Barrons.com this week, Toni Sacconaghi, Senior Technology Research Analyst for AllianceBernstein, estimates that Google (or more specifically its parent company Alphabet) pays Apple somewhere in the region of $7-8bn (£5.5–6.25bn) to be the default search engine on iPhones, Macs and other iOS devices. Sacconaghi suspects this is largely to outbid Bing, and keep a stronghold on the $15bn (£11.75bn) a year it generates from iOS.

However, that situation may change, particularly if Google believes that, as the search engine superpower, it can convince iOS users to resort to Google even if it’s not the default engine. If Google were to pull out of the agreement, Bing would be able to run almost unopposed in the bidding to be the default iOS search engine.

Such a situation would leave Apple out of pocket, but it may also create an opportunity for the firm to enter the search engine sector itself. One of the quickest solutions might be for it to buy out an existing search engine like DuckDuckGo, which Sacconaghi believes it could acquire for as little as $1bn (£780m).

The conflict here may be that DuckDuckGo bills itself as the privacy-focused search engine and the antidote to the data collection controversies that have tarnished Google’s and Facebook’s names in particular in recent times. Apple has not been immune to privacy concerns either, with a whistle-blower accusing the company of unethical data collection just last month. Should a buyout take place, Apple would either have to adapt its policies to be in line with DuckDuckGo’s privacy focus, or DuckDuckGo would lose its main selling point.

Presently, Google’s dominance of the market speaks for itself, which is why we exert our search engine optimisation efforts on it here at Engage Web. That’s not to say that the situation couldn’t change, though, so we always keep our ears to the ground for movements in the sector. Whatever the future may bring, make sure your website is looked upon favourably by search engines by talking to the Engage Web team.

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