Apple is quietly building a rival to Google’s ubiquitous search engine.
The Financial Times reports that Apple is planning to challenge Google’s flagship product, just as the company faces intense scrutiny from antitrust authorities, who are also threatening to curb the search leader’s grip on the industry.
Apple, which hired Google’s head of search John Giannandrea back in 2018, has begun displaying its own search results to handset users with its latest iOS 14 update. Clicking on links takes users directly to the website in question, rather than through another search engine.
A few days ago, the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, with prosecutors saying that the search giant is using illegal tactics to protect its monopoly in search. The report also unveiled that Google pays Apple an estimated $8 to $12 billion USD per year to get its search engine built into Apple products.
Now, the Financial Times claims that the antitrust lawsuit prompted Apple to start working on its own search product more urgently. It also cites experts as saying that Apple’s web crawler Applebot is showing increased activity in recent weeks, which might mean it’s scouring the web to build a bigger pile of data, which would be useful in building a search engine.
Apple is one of the few companies that has the resources to take on Google. With a market cap of over $2 trillion USD and around $200 billion of cash in hand, the Cupertino company has the ability to not only turn away the money received from Google but to invest in the server infrastructure required to create a competitive search engine.