Is Apple building a search engine?

Is Apple building a search engine?

Summary: Rumor has it over at TechCrunch that Apple is working on some type of search engine.If you think about it, the idea is not so far-fetched: Apple's Safari browser has 6-7% market share and currently uses Google exclusively as the search engine for both the standard and mobile versions on the iPhone and iPod.

TOPICS: Apple, Browser, Google

AppleRumor has it over at TechCrunch that Apple is working on some type of search engine.

If you think about it, the idea is not so far-fetched: Apple's Safari browser has 6-7% market share and currently uses Google exclusively as the search engine for both the standard and mobile versions on the iPhone and iPod. Through the maligned MobileMe, Apple has a suite of personal productivity tools that bring more traffic to them on a daily basis, which means there is a lot of searching going on without a lot of monetization on Apple's part, according to Michael Arrington.

Plus, there's the Android factor.

Google's Android-y competition to the iPhone is not to be ignored. Arrington notes that Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who sits on Apple's board of directors, usually sits out of discussions involving Apple's mobile strategy.

Big hole in the theory, though: if, in fact, Apple were building a search engine, where are all the search expert and engineer hires? No one's losing any bodies to Apple...yet.

Plus, Apple is on the receiving end of considerable fees from Google for search marketing money earned from Safari -- and without an advertising business, too, Google would still be relied upon.

So it looks like there's no full-scale search momentum going on at Apple -- but for a company built around innovation and UI (and marketing), perhaps this is working toward a new interface built around search.

What do you think?

Topics: Apple, Browser, Google

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • If this is like other Apple products...

    1. It will have a single button: Search for "Apple". Research has proven that the average Apple user gets confused by text boxes and would prefer that Jobs tell the user what they want to search for.

    2. It will be multi-touch enabled so you can rotate the search results.

    3. You will be charged $1.99 each time you use the search service and an annual "patch" fee of $129.

    4. Much like MobileMe's email service, it will work at least 90% of the time. That's not bad.

    5. All the results will be translucent.

    6. Strangely, you will not have the ability to copy and paste anything from the search results page. Jobs will never explain why.
    • You forgot one...

      7. Harry Bardal will make an appearance to tell us in at least 20 eloquent paragraphs why it rules over all other search engines, and oh, btw, Microsoft sucks.
      Hallowed are the Ori
      • MS does not blank.... it just lacks imagination.

        Now what I found funny is that NonZ went to great lengths to
        try and slam Apple but his descriptions sort of sounded very
        MS in nature to my eyes and ears. After all complicated is a
        MS thing not Apple. Features that have little meaning to the
        average user again MS. In fact I would be so bold as too say
        that MS invented the feature excess as a product feature.

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
        • Talk about a reality distortion field...

          Jim yours is a big and thick one. Apple is the Evil empire right now.
          • Who said anything about "evil empire"?

            How did you come up with that from what I said? Oh and I
            disagree with your premise however I have no idea why you
            even came up with your claim or how you come by it.

            Pagan jim
            James Quinn
          • Its easy...

            Be a frequent visitor to this site and it is obvious where your royalties lie. How is Apple any different from MS back in the late 90's and early 2000's?? They want everyone to use their products and they go about it in suspicious ways. Sound familiar to ya? Open the mind, its in there.
          • Interesting idea and to watch but will not fly in these blogs...nt

          • Apple is different from MS in it's basic business

            model. MS in theory tries to be everything for everyone.
            Apple's model is to focus on a controlled blend of
            hardware/software. Back in the day before the monopoly
            tial there was a LOT of competition and then there was
            almost none ie MS and Apple and a nearly dead Apple at
            that. MS used its monopoly power to squeeze out
            competition. Now again there is NOTHING wrong with
            being a monopoly in and of itself but when one forces
            OEMs into the kind of contracts that at that time MS did
            then MS stepped over the line and that was proven in
            court. Apple is NOT a monopoly there is plenty of
            competition in computers, OS's, MP3 players and
            smartphones. The only thing Apple holds tight control
            over is its own property. In other worlds you can play
            Apple does not stop you from playing Apple just does not
            allow you to use it's ball, but you can use any other ball
            you want to and play all you want. I see not problem in
            this tact. I like the results of Apples way. As long as there
            is competition I am happy and there is plenty of

            Pagan jim
            James Quinn
        • This is not my beautiful house... well, how did I get here?

          More to the point, the question was does the rumor make
          sense. I say no, not in the context presented. I think Apple
          already has some people who get search (Spotlight) so the
          body transfer point is not particularly illuminating. The real
          question is why spend money to drop a revenue stream.

          As for you Brother Q., I say we silently enjoy our NonZealot
          tangential (to be charitable) dudgeon du jour over Apple's
          insistence on having a business model and forsake the
          temptation to cast attentions to Redmondian demons.

          Oh, but the spirit is willing and the flesh weak. So with
          amusement aforethought I mention that as to search I have
          seen Microsoft lop together some nigh-on adequate
          technology and then spend money to buy usage. I know
          I've seen this business vision before. Indeed, it comes back
          to me and I think I see in the heavens a "3. ?; 4. Profit!" Say
          "Amen!" somebody.
          • Amen!

            While I can't see Apple building a search engine from scratch unless it's to search iTunes as NonZ proposed, at least they won't propose an alliance with another company, figure out their IP, release MS Money (as an example), and then decide they no longer want the alliance...
      • LOL <nt>

    • I feel for your pain

      and suffering. (though being a Windows fanboy, you should be used to it by now)

      You exhibit the classic 5 stages of grief...
      - denial
      - anger
      - depression
      - bargaining
      - acceptance

      Let us know when you reach the acceptance stage.

      Or you can always go "Zen" and become enlightened by chanting a Ghandi insight...

      "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

      It may even help lift you out of your anger and deep sense of denial and depression :-)

      • Project much? :) (nt)

        • No... evidence is obvious ;-)

    • what?

      1. what Apple product has a single button? a mouse they made 7+ years ago?

      2. rotate? do you even know what Multi-Touch is?

      3. pay for searching? give me a break, Apple only charges if your actually buying something new, paying for software or such... and if your "129" comment is about OS upgrades, that's just idiotic overall, no matter how many people say and show your "logic" is totally wrong, you still try passing it off.

      4. Yep, MobileMe had a lot of problems when it first came out... but your argument would make more sense if they still had those problems, and didnt make up for it. oh yeah, I remember, if Apple isnt perfect at everything you hate them and want them dead, cuz they have to be perfect like every other company.

      5. results? maybe results on a teslucent background...? hard to read or something? (which their translucent thing wasnt ever hard to read, just stupid people bitching about change)

      6. HEY!! there finally you had one thats actually funny and fits!

      just work a little more on your humor, trying to make jokes about Apple with stuff thats just so far off and doesn't even fit... almost totally twisted and made up... humor is more funny when it is closer to reality and not just fantasy.
  • And just why does the world need another search engine...

    from anybody, let alone apple. There are enough already.
    • A really good question.

      What if the goal is to implement a parallel processor
      effective MapReduce in Objective-C and write a CoreSearch
      framework for developers?

      I would expect that such things would be utilized by Apple
      in MobileMe (assuming Apple gets that product usable),
      perhaps to add a social networking element, and in OS X
      server for enterprise searching. Meanwhile, Safari would
      still generate cash by using Google for web searching.
  • RE: Is Apple building a search engine?

    Ha, funny you should say that. Steve Ballmer was recently
    quoted as saying that innovation in search has been stagnant
    for 10 years, going on to say that, "10 blue links still pop up
    on our screen when we search. Can't we do any better than
    that?" (something along those lines at least). I would LOVE to
    see that innovation come from Apple, making Steve Ballmer
    hate Apple just a little bit more. mmm rivalry.
  • RE: Is Apple building a search engine?

    Sherlock Live
  • Probably is the Google Voice Search

    This rumor sounds like they're talking about an iPhone port of the coming Google voice-based search.

    Ever use MS Live Search on a WM phone? Speaking the words "seafood restaurant" sure beats trying to type them in, especially one-handed.