For about a year now, I’ve been saying that Apple should get in the search game. Now business analysts are beginning to agree and experts are pondering the possibility.
Per Business Week
Some analysts believe the Apple-Google battle is likely to get much rougher in the months ahead. Ovum’s Yarmis thinks Apple may soon decide to dump Google as the default search engine on its devices, primarily to cut Google off from mobile data that could be used to improve its advertising and Android technology. Jobs might cut a deal with–gasp!–Microsoft to make Bing Apple’s engine of choice, or even launch its own search engine, Yarmis says. “I fully expect [Apple] to do something in search,” he adds. “If there’s all these advertising dollars to be won, why would it want Google on its iPhones?”
Whatever happens, it’s clear that Apple and Google are headed for more conflict. Android is a threat to an iPhone business that has quickly come to represent more than 30% of Apple’s sales. Meanwhile, nearly all the growth in search is expected to come from mobile devices, which Piper Jaffray predicts will account for 23.5% of all searches in 2016, up from less than 5% today. That sets the stage for a new main event in the tech sector. “This rivalry is going to accelerate innovation,” says Andreas Bechtolsheim, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and an early investor in Google. “Apple goes pretty fast, but having someone chasing you always makes you go faster. This is going to be good for consumers.”
While their best option a year ago would have been to buy Yahoo!’s search, that’s obviously off the table now. Buying Ask.com is an interesting idea, but they’ll clearly need more.
The biggest asset Apple has going for it is the “cult of Mac” that will automatically switch to an Apple search engine, should they launch one. No need to ponder the psychology of search engine familiarity and how hard it is to switch. But the cult following will be disgusted if Apple licenses search from Microsoft.
Apple has the best chance of truly altering the landscape of search in the near future. If search and software continue to converge, expect them to enter the game. I’m not sure they would put anything out this year, but they could make a few key acquisitions that would hint in that direction.
And if the journey of developing their much-anticipated Tablet is any indication, expect a denial of interest in search to be the first indication.