Thursday, August 19, 2021

Would You Use Apple Search?

 Source: Barron's Via Apple News.

My primary search engine is DuckDuckGo.  The second is Google.  I think that would be the same answer for most privacy conscious mobile warriors.  And with Apple playing a role in search, albeit a limited one with glacial pace of improvement, could Apple one day be a part of that conversation?  

First, let's get this out of the day. Apple's search engine it is today is very limited in scope and it is not what I would called very good.  Decent?  At times.  Other times, it leave much to be desired.  Spolight on my Mac is fine but there are times I searched the same term and get different results or none at all.  On the iPhone or iPad, it is even worse even when I'm looking for apps.  It is as if search on the iOS and iPadOS took a step backward.  Where Apple search is beginning to shine is in the App Store and even that has its own critics.

Still, it goes without saying that should Apple decide to get into the search business, many people would instantly change the default search engine over the Apple's.  Let's call it Spotlight for the purpose of this article.  Many people will search from others like Google over to Spotlight because of Apple's stance on privacy. Even DuckDuckGo users might give it a try just out of curiosity and want to see just how good Apple's own search AI and algorithms are compared to others.  

For users to abandon what they are used to and use Spotlight would mean that Apple has to come really close to what Google offers, which means it has to be better than what DuckDuckGo offers, which is good enough for vast majority of searches.  The only time I go to Google at all is if I am looking to see if Google offers other search results that DuckDuckGo missed. 

There have been rumors for years about an Apple search endeavor.  Every once in a while, things flare up and people think that Apple is working on search.  Well, it so happens that Apple has been working on improving Spotlight for years now.  People even find evidence of Apple's own crawlers on the Internet which they believe is evidence that Apple is quickly building something in the search market that would allow Apple to serve ads from searches.

It's interesting that Barron's believe that Apple has a lot of growing room in terms of ad revenue.  Let's face it right now - Apple's ad business will never come close to Google's own ad business in terms of ads served or revenue generated.  Or even the $25 billion that the article mentioned Amazon has. Apple's ads come from ads in the App Store while Amazon's ads are broader in scope.  

Still, it is an intriguing. If Apple does not go after the broad search or ad market, it is leaving a lot of money on the table. Barron's stated that Apple's ad revenue comes mostly from the App Store.  Beyond that, there is not a lot of room for Apple to grow the ad revenue if it does not get into search.

For Apple to get into search, it would need to offer the same privacy that DuckDuckGo offers its users while provide Google level ad placement.  That cannot be a simple task.  But Apple likely can be up to the challenge if it puts a lot of effort into it. 

Privacy and accuracy is the bottom line.  Should Apple able to achieve both with its own search engine, it has the potential of achieving decent size of the search market with an outsize share of the ad market.

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