Will Apple Have Its Own Search Engine?

Apple may be developing its own search engine in an effort to become a Google competitor.

Earlier this week, Apple posted an ad entitled “Engineering Project Manager – Apple Search” on its website’s job board. The opening called for “a technical, driven, and creative program manager to manage backend operations projects for a search platform supporting hundreds of millions of users.” According to the ad, the project in question will “play a part in revolutionizing how people use their computers and mobile devices.”

Could Apple be preparing to enter the search arena? Some say yes, pointing out that in the last two years, Apple hired a former Amazon executive and renowned search expert to revamp Siri and a Belgian developer found a Web-crawling bot originating from Apple’s servers.

But Benjamin Spiegel, director of strategy for GroupM, thinks not.

“It would be really out of place,” he says. “Apple is all about expanding its ecosystem and getting further into your household. Search doesn’t really fit into that ecosystem.”

Other skeptics have pointed out that Apple Search may simply be an enhancement for its Spotlight feature, which allows OS X Yosemite users to search for documents, emails, apps, and songs on Macs, as well as items in the iTunes store, Wikipedia pages, news, and nearby locations.

That’s a lot more likely, according to Spiegel, who believes content aggregation, display, and indexing are out of Apple’s wheelhouse. “[Apple Search will be] for connecting different content libraries together,” he hypothesizes. “We live in the age of the cloud,” he adds.

This year will mark the end of Google’s five-year tenure as the default search engine on Apple’s Safari browser, which currently accounts for a total of 10.28 percent of U.S. browser share, according to Web traffic analysis tool StatCounter. Yahoo and Microsoft, whose Bing is Siri’s default search engine, have reportedly been in talks with Apple about replacing Google on Safari.

Spiegel expects the current partnership to continue because Google has the best user experience, regardless of being an Apple competitor.

“I think it’d be a very bad decision [for Apple to switch search engines] and I don’t see them being that spiteful,” he says.

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