Why doesn’t Apple do its own search engine?

“In 2013, Apple sold about 150 million iPhones and about 70 million iPads,” Ashraf Eassa writes for Seeking Alpha. “It’s probably safe to assume that the vast majority of these Apple customers use their phones to surf the web, and the odds are pretty good that they’re using the built-in, Apple-designed Safari browser to do that searching.”

“Apple doesn’t have its own search engine, so Google and Microsoft benefit — the latter’s search technology powers Yahoo! as well,” Eassa writes. “Could Apple develop search to cash in on this large install base of iOS devices?”

“Building a world-class, global search engine is not easy, and as talented as Apple’s engineering teams are, creating one from scratch would require a significant investment and would likely take quite a long time to do properly,” Eassa writes. “Buying a world-class search engine would be impossible unless Microsoft were willing to part with Bing, and even then, it’s unclear if Apple would be able to morph Bing into something that provides a better user experience than Google search does today.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: DuckDuckGo.


      1. You kids today with your Sherlocks on your candy colored iMacs. Pshaw! That’s nothing more than a cheap Watson knockoff.

        Me… I’m old school, rocking Veronica searches on Gopher, when I’m not doing Archie searches on FTP.

    1. I wish I could share your optimism, but the reality is that almost all search engines exist primarily to sell ads.

      Apple — if it still cares about its user experience — could buck the trend by offering the user intelligent search results that are not dominated by top advertisers and megacorporations. Sadly, that takes work, and Apple has much catching up to do on other fronts as well – Maps, iOS file system, filtered searches, etc.

      For example, until Siri or whatever Apple search tool you choose can reliably recommend a small independent family restaurant if you asked for one, then intelligent people will just stick with the old useful search engine that allows for complex filtered searches. Siri just doesn’t do that well at all. Even when you provide the address, she doesn’t always get it right. Corrections sent to Apple receive no response. One gets the impression that Siri just doesn’t care.

  1. Apple could still do more in this area beyond Siri. And then take away Google’s main revenue stream in the process, cutting off their ad revenue oxygen. Would love to see Eric Schmidt & Larry Page do a little gasping for air.

  2. The vulture waits on the snarled branch of a dead tree, patiently. Microsoft is barely moving now and will soon be dead—it’s Bing for the feast tonight!

  3. Since Yahoo is already actively trying to distance itself from reliance on Bing, a Yahoo/Apple deal may already be in the cards. It would be a big win for both. Why else would Yahoo decide to go it alone unless it already had a better partner?

  4. Really, with all the things Apple should be doing by now, you come up with search.

    There are entire markets that Apple has ignored that people have to use a Windows PC to work in. Search isn’t one of them. How about trying to cut a 3D object on a CNC machine. You know, like any of the ones used to make everything you like to use in the real world. And Apple makes their loyal users have to do it in the Windows PC world. Tim Cook and the Apple board, it is software. Take an hour of Apple’s profits and buy one of the software companies and rewrite the code for a Mac and iOS device. Then, give it away for free to your customers. You would take that market in a day! You would have the Macs back logged for another half year!

    And you come up with search.

  5. Once they get Maps right, then I’ll entertain this as a possible good idea for Apple. Until then, I think Apple should just focus on making sure all their currently released products are great. The last thing Apple needs now is to send their best engineers off on massive tangent to build or maintain a search engine.

  6. I use DuckDuckGo for 90% of my Search Queries. Then I try Bing. Only as a last resort do I try Google. Because of Google’s appalling copycat behavior vis-a-vis iPhone, their smug, snarky comments about Apple and iOS, and Google’s relentless privacy invasion, I avoid giving Google business whenever possible. Try DuckDuckGo, it works quite well!

  7. Why would Apple have to buy Bing? Microsoft could keep Bing and sell Apple the data. Apple could take it, reformat it as they see fit, and start up their own search engine.

  8. IF Apple had ever given much of a care about its own website search engine, I’d be encouraging to create an alternative to Gaggle. But Apple has NEVER taken their own search engine seriously. It’s a mess and always has been. It’s so terrible, that I now only search the Apple website using an INTERNET search engine, such as Grakkle and DuckDuckGo. The search results are BRILLIANTLY superior to Apple’s own crap search engine. I hate Apple’s search engine, and they’ve known my opinion for years. I never miss an opportunity to tell them how much I hate it.

        1. You’re a knucklehead, but I gotta agree with you on this one. Searching for anything on their website is an effort in futility. I’m very hesitant to recommend to a new Apple user to look for help on that site, which is embarrassing.

    1. Apple did their search engine like they did their maps. They both suck.
      Despite their huge successes, Apple is not infallible. They turn out some real crap sometimes.

  9. Back in the day …the best web search engine I ever used was Apple’s Sherlock. Very relevant info; always returned the best searches when I compared with other search engines. (I don’t know if searchers were basically crowd-sourced by Apple users. If not, it sounds like a great idea.) And no ads. It was a sad day when Apple shut it down. I don’t know why, either. If maps are strategically important to Apple, then surely web search is, too.

  10. Search can be done so much better. Links with minor descriptions are time consuming and outdated.

    A better way would be to provide a paragraph summary of the page/article contents. The latest information should be first in the results. For example, if a user is searching for the latest hologram experiments/news then summary articles would appear with links for further reading. Each summary article should contain selectable icons which when clicked would show videos, radio broadcasts, twitter feeds, blog comments, etc.

    Apple and Yahoo might be experimenting with similar ideas. Today, Apple’s Siri provides summary answers from Wikipedia with links for further reading. Page summaries from other sources, multimedia and social would be a nice improvement. In addition, check out Yahoo’s News Digest App. It is similar in design to the idea of a more efficient and pleasurable search.

  11. THE REAL REASON APPLE… Doesn’t do search is because they only enter markets where there is opportunity and one major player isn’t dominating, or if they are… They suck at it. They only enter when they know there is a product that they can do better than anyone else out there. Perhaps by not entering the search market they are signaling to us that there isn’t a better way for it to be done (that they’ve thought of).

    1. Yeah, well in case you hadn’t noticed – Google search sucks big time now. Over time, its usefulness has been quietly whittled down to be replaced by mostly paid advertising. You can’t do the simplest search without being swamped with ads, getting in the way of what you really want to know. Yeah, it would be a huge thing to take on and do properly, but I really, really wish they would, coz Google and Bing both have me tearing out my hair every time I use them.

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