Apple speeds up work on its own search engine after DOJ questions its deal with Google

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Apple has accelerated its work on a proprietary search engine, possibly because of regulatory pressure, per a new report from Financial Times.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google on Tuesday over the alleged annual payment of around $8 billion to $12 billion made to Apple to be the default search engine on its devices.

The payment allegedly makes up 15 to 20 percent of the iPhone maker’s profit. Apple’s devices were apparently behind 50 percent of Google’s search traffic last year. 

Although the Justice Department’s lawsuit hasn’t accused Apple of wrongdoing, it apparently wants to have an in-house alternative ready in case its partnership with Google is blocked by regulators. 

iOS and iPadOS 14 have already started bypassing Google Search 

Apple is really secretive when it comes to internal projects, but this isn’t the first time we are hearing about its efforts to launch a rival to Google’s search engine.

With iOS 14, Apple seems to have taken a step towards that aim. The latest version of the iPhone operating system shows Apple’s own results when users type queries from the home screen. 

The company also poached John Giannandrea, Google’s head of search over two years back, and is also actively looking for search engineers.

Its web crawler Applebot has increased its crawling activities recently. Crawlers browse the internet for web indexing, something which forms the backbone of a search engine. 

That said, creating a search engine that matches Google’s is no mean feat. Dan Wang, associate professor of business at Columbia Business School, says: 

At the same time, Apple is one company that has the finances to make the long-term investment required to create a search engine and it is also in line with its strategy of having control over the most important components of its offerings. 

A search engine would also bring a new source of revenue. Since the company controls the default browser on its devices, it should not be too hard to attract users to its own search engine.

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