KEY POINTS

  • Updates in iOS 14 suggest Apple is moving away from Google
  • Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Google for alleged antitrust practices
  • Google pays $8-12 billion to Apple to be its default search tool: Report

Apple may be stealthily developing its own search engine, as Google faces a lawsuit from the U.S. antitrust authorities regarding the search engine giant’s agreements with companies to be the default search tool.

In the newest operating system update for the iPhone, the iOS 14, Apple has started showing its own search results and direct links to websites when users search from their home screen.

In its updated version, iOS 14 does not use Google for many of its search functions, as it previously used to. The search window that appears in iPhones when users swipe right now compiles Apple-generated search suggestions rather than Google results.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Justice, in a landmark lawsuit said, Google is monopolizing the search space by entering into multi-billion dollar deals with mobile companies like Apple, Motorola, and network carriers like AT&T and Verizon, to be the default search engine on devices. This way, Google has an unbreakable hold on the search market, cutting off access to other players, the antitrust authorities claimed.

Google, however, has maintained that the reason it is on top of the market is that customers prefer its services.

This is a huge step for Apple in terms of in-house development and would pave way for one of Google’s biggest competitors. It was reported recently that Google pays as much as $8-12 billion to Apple to remain its default search engine. The DOJ wants to prevent such deals, which would mean a loss of easy money for Apple, and Google would lose significant traffic coming from Apple users.

According to the lawsuit, nearly half of Google’s traffic now comes from Apple devices, which means that if Apple goes ahead to make an alternative search engine for its devices, it would not have trouble attracting traffic. It is a widely held belief in the tech sector that if there is someone to thwart Google’s position as the leader of the search space, it is Apple.

Google’s revenue from search and other on-site ads in the previous quarter was $21.32 billion. This does not include revenue from YouTube advertisements which stood at $3.81 billion.

In the past, Apple has wanted to own most of its components, like chips, that power its devices to replace Intel or AirPods and Watch series components. But in search, Apple has been in alliance with Google for almost a decade.

“They (Apple) have a credible team that I think has the experience and depth, if they wanted to, to build a more general search engine,” Bill Coughran, a former Google employee, told Financial Times.

Apple has been on the lookout for engineers to “define and implement the architecture of Apple’s groundbreaking search technology,” one of its job ads reportedly said.

Apple may be working on its own search engine that would be part of its mobile devices, potentially competing with the dominant market player Google Apple may be working on its own search engine that would be part of its mobile devices, potentially competing with the dominant market player Google Photo: AFP / Josh Edelson