Suganthan Mohanadasan, a digital marketing consultant, said that Applebot has appeared “a ridiculous number of times” on his clients’ websites in recent weeks. “When the tracking rate increases, it tells us that they are trying to collect more information.”
More significantly, iOS 14 has left Google aside for certain search functions. Queries made in the search window accessed by swiping to the right on the iPhone’s home screen – which Apple calls “Preview Today” – show a list of search suggestions generated by Apple instead of Google results. These results include suggestions in the “autocomplete” style generated by Apple, showing that it is learning from the most common queries of 1 billion users.
Apple declined to comment.
Building a real rival to Google’s search engine can take years. But with profits forecast for this year at more than $ 55 billion and $ 81 billion of net cash reserves at the last count, Apple can afford to make long-term investments.
Apple has historically tried to own and control the most important components of its products, from the custom chips that power everything from the iPhone to its AirPods and watch accessories, to the tight integration between its software and hardware.
Still, Apple has kept Google as the iPhone’s default search engine for more than a decade.
Now, however, Apple has an increasing incentive to change that, as regulators force it to choose between defending its relationship with Google or turning against its longtime research partner.
The U.S. DoJ has put Google’s estimated $ 8 billion to 12 billion annual payments as the iPhone’s default search engine at the center of its antitrust case against the Internet group.
Sharis Pozen, co-director of global law firm Clifford Chance and a former assistant attorney general at the DoJ, said the case “opens another front for Apple” alongside legal struggles with Epic Games and others over his role as a porter of the App Store. “Apple will be central here,” she said, adding that she must “walk the fine line” in explaining why she took billions of dollars from Google.
The DoJ may demand an end to the exclusivity deal, she said, allowing others equal access to iPhone search standards.
Apple has stumbled on creating a rival to Google before. When Apple Maps launched in 2012, it was so prone to errors that Scott Forstall, one of the company’s top lieutenants to the late co-founder Steve Jobs, was forced to resign.