Around 9 months ago, Facebook officially introduced its new social search engine to the public. With that announcement, now 4 tech juggernauts already have their own search engines. Google with its widely-popular “Google”, Microsoft with “Bing”, Yahoo with “Yahoo!” and last but not least, Facebook with its newly-announced “Graph Search”.
But what about Apple, the company that in the fiscal year of 2012 made more profits than even Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook combined? Does this Cupertino-based tech giant have any plan to follow Facebook’s footsteps to launch its own search engine in the near future?
How the Rumors Started?
Actually, the rumors about Apple’s search engine have become old news in the tech world. As a matter of fact, many famous tech news portals from TechCrunch, Mashable and other sites, including analyst Gene Munster believed that Apple’s own search engine was in the making and would replace Google Search on iOS. Meanwhile, the writers at Forbes were also really vocal regarding this issue.
The sign of Apple removing Google Search from iOS was known publicly when Apple decided to deprive Google Maps on iOS 6 and replace it with its homemade Apple Maps, which sadly then became a huge flop for Apple.
Although Google Maps then made it back again on iOS 6 in the form of an app on iTunes, many people believed that this could be the first sign that Apple Search is heading to iOS anytime soon. Unfortunately, we never heard about the existence of Apple’s search engine ever since.
But the rumors were raised again from the dead when Apple reportedly hired Bill Stasior, an Amazon’s executive who had years of experience in search engine world. He was assigned by Apple to handle the development of SIRI. And at the beginning of this year, we also saw Facebook introduce its brand new Graph Search to the world (of Facebook).
So the question is, with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook having their own search engines, will Apple become the next tech giant to join these BIG FOUR in the search engine industry? What factors will make Apple confident to build its own search engine for iOS users?
1. Apple Could Have a Long Term Profit Machine
Okay, first of all, by releasing its own search engine, Apple can finally have full control over its search engine’s traffic and the most important, the advertising dollars, not Google anymore. So no doubt that Apple will benefit from the incoming traffic all over the iOS ecosystem, which then can be channeled by Apple to its advertising partners or other departments that for sure will “print” more money for Apple.
And this means, in the long term future, Apple will finally have a much more promising profit machine than just selling products or iTunes contents, just like what Google already has today on its search engine.
2. SIRI = Apple’s Secret Weapon
Let’s not forget about SIRI, Apple’s most trusted personal assistant on iOS. SIRI made its first debut on iOS around 2 years ago. In that long timeframe, this intelligent knowledge navigator has been collecting a lot of users’ voice searching data through iOS devices from all over the world.
SIRI might look inferior in its first debut, but if Apple could improve this feature much even further, especially since SIRI has been taken over by Bill Stasior, then it wouldn’t be so surprising if one day, SIRI could be one of the most powerful weapons that Apple could use to collect more users’ information to improve its search engine in the future, just like what Google has been doing in the past few years.
3. Growing iOS Ecosystem = The Home for the Apple Search Engine
The other factor that will likely bring more guts for Apple to remove Google Search from iOS is the fact that Apple has been selling tremendous amounts of iOS devices since the first iPhone was introduced to this world 6 years ago.
Up until now, Apple has sold more than 600 million units of iOS devices in the entire world. And the number could even be so much bigger if it’s combined with the newer models of iPhone, iPod Touch, iPod, and iPad mini, plus with other Apple products. Well, that’s a lot, right? It’s like the population of one huge country.
4. Apple Search Integrated with iTunes Contents
Can you imagine that if Apple finally launches a perfectly usable search engine that can give accurate and fast results to the users, plus can deeply integrate the searching results with the contents available on iTunes, like apps, books, music, movies or TV series, there is a big chance that all the users in the huge iOS ecosystem will start looking Apple Search as a much more reliable search engine than Google?
Moreover, if Apple could improve its search engine to become much faster and more accurate than before, it wouldn’t be so surprising if one day, those users would be more comfortable of using Apple Search on iOS devices than Google because besides they are already comfortable with the Apple ecosystem and services, they also have invested a lot on iTunes.
And if Apple can take the advantage of having a huge iOS ecosystem to drive and even force all the iOS users to use Apple Search, then slowly but surely, the brand of Apple Search will start becoming as huge as Google – of course only in Apple ecosystem, not in the entire world.
5. Experts Will Help Improve the Apple Search Engine
Apple can also hire many tech engineers and even geniuses that are well-experienced in this search engine world to make sure that Apple Search or whatever it will be called, can give accurate results and a great experience to the users. And that’s what matters a lot.
And if Apple is worried its search engine will be another huge failure just like Apple Maps, then Apple can just hire ex-staff from Google or Amazon, just like what they already did recently to help Apple fix the chaos on iOS Maps and SIRI.
Given that Apple has a lot of cash to spend from its big fat bank account, then it’s not gonna be very difficult for Apple to hire the right people to develop its search engine. Even though Apple Search will not be as great as Google (clearly), especially in terms of searching results and performance (absolutely), but at least, it’s still perfectly usable for iOS users. Furthermore, Apple Search will definitely improve over time.
Well, this is not going to be an easy journey for Apple because Apple obviously is not an expert in this industry. When it comes to internet search engine, most people will think about “Google”, not Yahoo or Bing. It’s like the brand of “iPad” that is insanely popular and ridiculously makes many non-tech-savvy users call all tablets as iPad.
Google is the result of never-ending developments for many many years since 1997. So Google has been around in this industry since like – forever. That is something that cannot be achieved overnight. And Apple knows that. Apple is not stupid, right?
It’s impossible if Apple wants to repeat the same exact mistake just like when it launched Apple Maps on iOS 6. Let’s face the fact – Apple Maps was a huge flop that had cost Apple its credibility and integrity around the tech community (hey, that rhymes!).
Therefore, Apple may need to take the shortcut in order to get the job done. And that’s by acquiring the existing search engine company and turning it into a more established and good looking product in Apple’s “Midas hands”, just like what Apple has done to iTunes, SIRI and other acquired products.
After that, Apple must also shake hands with Wikipedia, Yahoo Answers, Dictionary, Encyclopedia, Thesaurus, and other big information database websites around the net, in order to make sure that its search engine is well armed to compete with Yahoo, Bing and the most importantly, Google.
The Final Decision
But Tim Cook should also remember that Apple shouldn’t launch its search engine too early just like what it did with Apple Maps. It’s really obvious that Apple doesn’t want to be thrown again with rotten tomatoes for the second time by the entire tech community. Therefore, Apple Search must be rolled out after it’s perfectly usable for human beings, not “Alien”.
Not to mention, in order to avoid another humiliation just like what already happened on Apple Maps and SIRI, Apple must willingly put the label “beta” on its search engine name. Although this move is absolutely against Steve Jobs’ philosophy, this is really important to let people know that Apple Search is still in the early stage, so things like bugs and errors will be familiar to see.
Bottom line, even if many people are still skeptical about the rumors about Apple making its own search engine, then we should remember that a year ago, Apple just kicked Google Maps and YouTube app out from iOS 6. And that was a really huge decision.
So if Apple dared to remove such huge applications like Google Maps, YouTube app, then don’t ever be surprised if, in the future, Apple would do the same thing to Google search engine or even all of Google apps and services from iOS.
Furthermore, killing all of Google apps from Apple devices can be considered as Steve Jobs’ famous “thermonuclear war” against Android, which now is against Google too.