Apple’s supposed search engine just suffered a major setback as talent returns to Google

Apple has its fingers in many different pies, but one area where it has next to no foot is research. Yes, there’s internal search – Spotlight for Mac, the way you find tracks on Apple Music and Siri’s ability to search for things – but a real Google rival is something that hasn’t been out yet. the cards.

Rumors still persist that Apple will one day create a competitor to Google Search, however, and it’s not hard to see why. Not only are search engines potentially big (without Google search it’s hard to see Pixel, Chrome, Gmail, or many other things out there), but Apple has the key advantage of having billions of Macs and Android devices. iPhone that could all drive users to its own theoretical search engine.

But a new report from information (opens in a new tab) suggests that any possible move is at least four years away, in part due to a trio of former Google search engineers abandoning Apple and returning to the world of dedicated search. As the report explains, it deals “a potential blow to the Apple team that is quietly developing search capabilities that could compete head-on with those of Google.”

These engineers joined Apple in 2018, when the company acquired Laserlike (opens in a new tab) – a machine learning startup that could search the web for news, sites and videos tailored to the user’s tastes. But according to The Information’s report, the three founders – Srinivasan Venkatachary, Steven Baker and Anand Shukla – have now returned to the Google fold.

While it’s not clear whether Apple has a dedicated web search engine in its plans, The Information’s source believes it simply isn’t in a position to reveal one any time soon. There are “at least four years until the launch of a potential replacement for Google Search,” the report said, citing a source who “has been involved with the team.”

For now, Apple is actively promoting Google Search on its devices for a estimated between 18 and 20 billion dollars per year (opens in a new tab), which isn’t exactly chicken feed, even for a company with Apple’s annual revenue. But there are questions about how long this can last, with the Justice Department sniffing around this and similar arrangements on antitrust grounds (opens in a new tab).

If the DoJ terminates the lucrative deal, then Apple would have no reason not to enter the search game as a true competitor to Google, but it has other short-term options. The reports suggest that Apple could strike a similar deal with Microsoft to make Bing the default because its relatively small market share isn’t likely to trigger the same antitrust scrutiny.

Although the idea of ​​Apple promoting Microsoft software seems a bit fanciful, creating a dedicated search engine is also far from a risk-free option, although it could be done quickly. The Information’s report notes that any move in this direction would require a “significant increase in the team’s budget”, and it’s safe to say that the results are not a sure thing.

Microsoft has huge cash reserves and Apple-like advantages with billions of Windows PCs worldwide, but Bing remains a small player in the search world. That a theoretical alternative to Apple will work better is far from guaranteed.

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