As pointed out in a comprehensive article over at Coywolf, Apple could be planning to launch its own search engine to compete with Google search as suggested by changes in Spotlight Search on iOS and iPadOS 14 beta, as well as a major update to its AppleBot support page.
The source also notes that there has been an increase in crawling from AppleBot, the company’s web crawler used by products including Siri and Spotlight Suggestions. Moreover, Apple has been investing heavily in search as shown in their job postings for search engineers.
As to exactly why Apple would want to launch its own search engine despite the fact that Google pays billions of dollars to Apple to remain the default search engine on Safari for iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, remains unclear, although it may gain a lot from this model.
Some of the main benefits include:
The promotion of apps in search results that will benefit Apple’s services and detract from Google’s push towards PWAs.
A weakening of Google’s monopoly on search and a significant blow to its ad revenue and data mining.
The promotion of Apple products and services. Including struggling services like Apple News+ and Apple TV+.
Continued control and lock down of the Apple ecosystem. Users will become dependent on personalized search results with deep service and product integrations that are only possible via their search engine.
The extension of their ad serving platform will allow app developers to promote their apps in search results.
But then again, it’s all just a speculation at this point and Apple may never end up releasing a search engine.