It’s no secret that the folks over at Apple have always been a little jealous of Google’s dominance as the Internet’s top search engine. But the iCompany has been bogged down with too many product launches and keeping the company strong in the wake of Steve Jobs’ death to do anything about it.
Word on the street is that Apple’s search deal with Google is going to expire soon and when it does, the search engine default on the Safari browser that comes with every Apple computer, iPhone, iPad (and now iWatch) is going to be up for grabs. And you just know that Bing or Yahoo (or every other search engine for that matter) would love to have that particular piece of business.
There’s even speculation that Apple may have its own search engine in development. After all, the company has a long history of vertical integration.
Dumping Google Could Have Big Consequences
RKG’s Mark Ballard has stated that “roughly half of total paid search traffic (is) at stake in 2015 if the Safari search default is really up for grabs across devices.” That could have huge consequences that would be felt throughout many industries.
It also could lead to a big drop in Google’s value. Imagine what would happen to Google if Apple were to drop its search engine from its devices. For one thing, Google would experience an immediate (and permanent?) drop in the amount of mobile traffic, market share and paid clicks it currently has. According to StatCounter, Safari’s presence on Apple-based desktops and mobile devices accounts for slightly less than 26% of all US Internet traffic. That’s more than IE. Only Chrome has a larger share.
Another Player Waiting in the Wings?
Meanwhile, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer has publicly stated that she would like her company to be the default search engine for Apple.
And Bing already does the searches for Siri on mobile devices and for Apple PC’s Spotlight searches. That could mean that if Apple is planning on dropping Google, because it already has a working relationship with Bing, it may put their search engine at the top of their list of candidates.
There’s also a lot of speculation about a recent job posting from Apple for an “engineer projection manager” for its “Apple Search” department. That’s a pretty strong indicator that Apple is at least considering getting into the search engine business.
Here’s what the job posting says:
“Apple seeks a technical, driven and creative program manager to manage backend operations projects for a search platform supporting hundreds of millions of users. Play a part in revolutionizing how people use their computers and mobile devices. Manage operations projects that support groundbreaking technology and the most scalable big-data systems in existence.”
Now, that may sound as if Apple is announcing the launch of its own search engine, but it also could just be a bluff to improve its negotiating position with Google, Bing, Yahoo or another player.
Does Apple Still Have the Guts to Pull Off Such a Huge Move?
There’s no question that Apple under Tim Cook is a much different company than Apple under Steve Jobs (both times). The days of launching industry-changing products is in the past for Apple. So the best bet right now would be that Apple will keep its relationship with Google.
But there’s always the chance that Google may want to pull out of its deal with Apple. After all, the search monsters pays Apple a reported billion dollars per year in revenue sharing for its deal with the mobile Safari.
Stay tuned to for the next episode in this high stakes corporate Internet soap opera.