Amidst a legal showdown with the US government over antitrust concerns, Apple is strategically maneuvering to reduce its reliance on Google and potentially dethrone Google Search by developing its own search engine. Apple has embarked on a series of search-related experiments within its ecosystem and established a substantial search team, spearheaded by former Google executive John Giannandrea. To bolster its search capabilities, Apple has also made significant acquisitions in the realm of AI and search technologies.
While Apple’s senior vice president has praised Google’s search prowess, these endeavors might serve a dual purpose: safeguarding Apple against potential legal entanglements and the peril of losing billions of dollars should its partnership with Google face jeopardy.
Google, currently entrenched in a high-stakes antitrust dispute with the US government, is under intense scrutiny regarding its search business. This legal fracas has implicated Apple, possibly compelling the tech giant to reassess its multi-billion-dollar deal with Google and consider substituting Google Search with its in-house solution—a project it has been incubating for some time.
Mark Gurman, in his weekly newsletter for Bloomberg, has shed light on Apple’s quest to reduce its dependence on Google. Over the years, Apple has been experimenting with various facets of search, evident in its services like the App Store, Maps, Apple TV, and News. Furthermore, Apple’s commitment to search is manifested in features like Spotlight, designed to help users locate content within their devices. Despite these efforts, web results have continued to be powered by Google or Bing.
John Giannandrea, formerly a key player at Google and presently the leader of Apple’s AI division, is at the helm of a sizeable search team. Giannandrea’s team is tirelessly working on integrating Apple’s search, internally known as “Pegasus,” more deeply into the iOS and macOS ecosystems, bolstering the search technology with cutting-edge generative AI tools.
Apple has also ventured into strategic acquisitions and investments in AI and search technologies, including Laserlike—an AI-based search engine—that may lay the groundwork for its future search engine.
While the precise launch date of Apple’s full-fledged search engine remains shrouded in mystery, Gurman’s analysis suggests that the company’s continuous investments and innovations in search technology indicate that it’s only a matter of time.
During the ongoing legal battle between the US Department of Justice and Google, Apple’s Senior Vice President, Eddy Cue, testified that Apple currently doesn’t perceive a need to create its own search engine as Google’s search is superior. Interestingly, Microsoft made overtures to Apple to offload Bing, but the Cupertino-based tech giant declined the proposal.
Gurman speculates that Apple’s stance may be more about shielding Google from potential legal ramifications. Should the US government find Google guilty of antitrust violations, its partnership with Apple could be in peril, potentially costing Apple billions of dollars.