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3 Reasons Apple Might Create Their Own Search Engine

Yesterday there was much stir in the tech press (see here, for instance) after Apple offered details on its much rumored web crawler known appropriately enough as "Applebot." Apple says the web crawler is merely for use with Siri and Spotlight. Nevertheless, this revelation has led to much speculation that Apple might actually be creating a search engine to rival Google. 

Although presumably Apple has the kind of massive data centers to back their own search engine, why would they want to do that? What would be the point? Could they possibly match what Google, the de facto search standard, is already doing? 

Well, there are at least three reasons for doing this I can think of off the top of my head. Here they are in order of significance.  

  1. Apple's own search engine would provide means to remove dependency on yet another Google service. Granted, Apple's own map service was nowhere near what Google Maps was, and it certainly got off to a very rocky start. But these days, it's fairly comparable--or at least good enough. In fact, millions of people use it every day and don't even realize they're using something that's not Google Maps. And maybe that's the point. An Apple search engine doesn't have to be as good as Google. It only has to be good enough. 
  2. Apple could provide its customers with ad-free search. Tim Cook has famously said that Apple's customers "are not the product." Google's services are supported through monetization of information gained through the habits of their users. Already Apple provides its users with a choice of search engines: Google, Yahoo, Bing and the lesser known Duck Duck Go. I've been using this last choice for nearly six months. I use it because of the four choices, Duck Duck Go is the only one that doesn't monetize my searches or even keep a record of them. How does it stack up? Just fine. Occasionally I have to use Google, but when I used Google, I occasionally had to use Bing. The point is that a search engine just needs to be good enough to be useful most of the time. 
  3. Apple creating its own search engine and making it the default choice on its devices will hurt Google financially. With Steve Jobs gone, no one at Apple is declaring "thermonuclear war" against Google anymore. Honestly, I doubt this is a reason that Apple would create its own search engine; but nevertheless, "Apple Search" (you heard it here first) as a default could seriously put a dent into Google's finances and threaten its position as king of search.

Google has become so dominant with internet search that even Microsoft has not been able to gain more than a minority share of searches on the internet. Apple controls the default settings of hundreds of millions of devices sold each year, so they could make a significant effort. But they may have no desire to become the top search engine on the internet. Apple likes to control the whole widget and not remain dependent on other companies. When it comes to search, they just need to be good enough. 

What are your thoughts? Does Apple have plan for their own search engine, or is this just a minor technology service for Apple devices. Leave your thoughts, questions, comments and rebuttals in the comments section.