Is Apple about to make Spotlight search a web service?
Let’s be honest, Apple already has a search engine and we use it each time we use Spotlight to find a website on iPads or iPhones.
Now it looks as if it might intend taking this a little further, reports claim, speculating the company may plan its own search engine.
This isn’t a new rumor
There has been speculation of this kind for years. Not only has the company been thought to be thinking about search since the Siri purchase ten years ago, but it seems more likely than ever that regulators may begin work to break the stranglehold of big tech, and this will include eroding the power of Google — which means Apple needs a backup plan.
Google stands to lose bigly, particularly given that its deal with Apple for its search engine to be the default on iPhones, iPads and Macs makes it a huge amount of money in comparison to the number of people using Safari.
Which is why Google pays Apple a huge amount of money every year to keep its search engine as default. We’re looking at enough cash for a new home, a holiday, and a lifetime off work for you, your family and your friend’s families.
We’re talking billions.
Apple already has a search bot
Those Spotlight results don’t come from nowhere.
Apple already has its own search bot, trawling the web to come up with results for it (see What is Applebot and what does it do?).
The bot ranks search results in order to deliver higher quality results. Products like Siri and Spotlight Suggestions use it. Its existence shows Apple has been gathering information that could easily inform a search engine.
The other strand is privacy.
As I wrote here:
“It seems logical to think that figuring out how to deliver accurate, localized search results that are personalized to individual need while also being utterly private and anonymized may yet emerge to be the kind of world-changing technological challenge someone of John Giannandrea’s calibre craves.”
Apple has the platform, a reason to use it (privacy), the technology and the kind of world class AI-based leadership to do something in search.
The fact it hasn’t hurried to do so tells us quite a lot about the deal it has with Google, but if regulators are preparing to stamp on that arrangement, no surprise that Apple is already building out its backup plan.