Tim Cook: Why Apple accepts billions annually from Google to be Safari’s default search engine despite privacy concerns

“Apple CEO Tim Cook didn’t name names when he spoke out against the privacy practices of big tech companies during a keynote speech in Brussels last month. But he didn’t have to,” Steve Kovach reports for CNBC. “‘We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance. And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them,’ Cook said in the October 24 speech. ‘This should make us very uncomfortable. It should unsettle us.'”

“Those comments were primarily directed at Facebook and Google, the two biggest tech companies that make most of their money from advertising based on user data,” Kovach reports. “But that hasn’t stopped Apple from working with the companies it disagrees with. Facebook and Google’s apps are available in Apple’s App Store, for example, and Apple accepts billions of dollars a year from Google so Google can be the default search engine in the Safari web browser.”

“In an interview with Axios on HBO Sunday night, Axios technology correspondent Ina Fried asked Cook why,” Kovach reports. “‘I think their search engine is the best,’ Cook said, adding that Apple has added controls to the Safari browser to keep companies like Google from tracking your browsing history to collect data about you. ‘Look at what we’ve done with the controls we’ve built in,’ Cook said. ‘We have private web browsing. We have an intelligent tracker prevention. What we’ve tried to do is come up with ways to help our users through their course of the day. It’s not a perfect thing. I’d be the very first person to say that. But it goes a long way to helping.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Google is not the best search engine for everything. Other search engines have their strong points (use Bing for images and DuckDuckGo for real privacy, for two examples).

As Apple did with Maps, Cook should have done with Search (except smartly tagged “beta” at launch, of course). It’s not too late to begin rectifying that mistake.

Regardless, if you haven’t already, give DuckDuckGo a try today!


Apple allows users to easily switch to the privacy-respecting DuckDuckGo search engine on Safari:

1. Click Safari in the top menu bar.
2. Select Preferences.
3. Click on Search.
4. Select DuckDuckGo.

1. Open Settings.
2. Navigate and tap on Safari.
3. Tap on Search Engine.
4. Select DuckDuckGo.

DuckDuckGo: What it’s like to use a search engine that values your privacy – November 5, 2018
Why I switched from Google to DuckDuckGo – July 4, 2015
Why Apple should buy DuckDuckGo – June 19, 2015
DuckDuckGo has grown 600% since Apple made it a search option – and Snowden’s revelations – June 17, 2015
Apple’s default search engine: Is DuckDuckGo next in line? – March 4, 2015
Microsoft, Yahoo vie to become Apple Safari’s default search option – November 26, 2014
Apple adds DuckDuckGo option to iOS 8 Safari, ‘a search engine that doesn’t track users’ – September 18, 2014
Apple slams Google in Safari 7.1 release notes: ‘Adds DuckDuckGo, a search engine that doesn’t track users’ – September 18, 2014
It’s time for Apple to buy DuckDuckGo – May 30, 2014


  1. Apple has Siri, Why doesn’t Apple go into search? it only makes sense,
    get a platform in print with a web browser with usable links,
    Do advertising, and watch Goog Stock price crumble.. Its like Apple never wants to actually compete,

    Why doesn’t Apple then go into a User based upload platform like YouTube on Itunes? why is it that Apple has no good place to watch music videos and other content when they INVENTED Itunes first? Doesn’t it make sense to have a platform like YouTube that hosts user content via Itunes that makes users want to use MACS to create content? Then Monetize the content? and put YouTube and their censors out of business or at least compete?
    Especially now when Google has TRUST ISSUES.

    Its literally like you have guys at Apple sitting around counting their stock money and making diamond rings out of blocks of diamonds, Bad optics,

    I thought Apple was going into Content,?

    Compete against Google for FU#(*S sake, !

    How dumb. “Light on his feet” Timmy doesn’t have the urge to fight.

    CREATE a User driven content page.
    just one of hundreds of obvious ideas.

    1. Sorry, but that’s all a bit daft and only makes sense if you ignore the mounting outrage against Facebook, Google et al illegally gaming the system…fair or otherwise.
      Apple is more likely thinking “That way – doing ‘Search’ seriously, entails inevitable privacy violations if you want to be competitive. So no thanks”
      Otherwise, all they have to do is provide users a choice of browsers, sit back, keep the conversation about Apple’s ‘strong’ privacy policy – how it is different from the norm and…watch the inevitable fireworks.
      Which, sensibly, is exactly what Tim Cook has just done.

      1. Great post!

        This is simply an Apple money grab. Plain and simple.

        “Our users are our bitches! Want access? Pony up!”
        Possible through the powers of censorship.

    2. “Doesn’t it make sense to have a platform like YouTube that hosts user content via Itunes that makes users want to use MACS to create content?”

      Great idea. That is probably why it won’t happen. Cook is more interested in hiring the Hollywood elites to add an air of prestige to original content. He could not care less (snob) about supporting the hoi polloi…

  2. I will disagree with MDN on this. I use DDG 90% of the time, but there are times I cannot find what I know is out there. Then I run to Google and it is there and more. Google returns more relevant hits than DDG every time I use Google. I don’t like it and I despise the tracking that Google does.

    However, when I need special information and DDG doesn’t give it, I have to turn to Google and am amazed at how much more info is available in the top 20 hits that DDG does not give. After getting that info, I return to DDG for the other 90% of the time/needs.

    1. i agree, DDG many times dont find the relevant searches but google does. Sad but true. Google is also number 1 in advertising and many websites rely on that google revenue, which in turn subsidized Android and Samsung.

      1. Google wins in terms of relevance every time and in order to even anywhere CLOSE, you’re going to have to at least as forceful, if not MORE so, than Google at gathering and using people’s private information. Apple has shown little interest in tracking people that way.

    1. I disagree. In this case, Apple is providing its customers with choices along with supplementary data protection. Choice is good, right? I frequently see posts on MDN screaming for a great range of choices within the “walled garden.”

      The key factor, in my opinion, is that Google is paying for default search engine status, not exclusive status. I know that many people just accept the defaults without customizing their iOS experience. But I don’t. I switched my default search engine to DDG. On those rare occasions when I feel that I need to look elsewhere on the internet, I can easily access Google or Bing. In my case, Apple is getting paid by Google, but I have selected DDG as my default. Win-win.

      1. That doesn’t excuse Cook’s obvious hypocrisy when talking about user privacy. There are at least 2 or 3 other excellent search engines Apple could have offered if more choice was a goal. As you should know, user choice has never been a goal at Apple. Cook only cares about the money. Unfortunately that means Apple is aiding and abetting Google and Amazon and Facebook etc in becoming monopolies in their respective corners of the market.

        Oh look, MDN is doing the same thing— google ads, Facebook icons underneath their articles complaining about these evil companies. The excuses ? These companies are the biggest so they must be too big to fail no matter how immoral or recklessly they act. Hmmmmmm. MDN and Timmy Fuckwit Cook have no principles. Raking in the almighty dollar is all that matters.

      2. Given the predatory nature of Google’s business combined with Apple being a frontrunner for privacy (at least they say they are), they should never have accepted payment from Google to let it be the default choice.

        By all means, let Google be on the list of choices for those who like to be exploited.

        1. Realist and SilverSurfer both most excellent points. What apologists like Melvin do not understand or address is the main issue: HYPOCRISY. Cook speaks out on privacy issues on one hand and accepts a $12 billion payoff on the other hand. The laughable excuse that you can change the default search engine (most don’t know it even exists) does not eliminate a hypocritical position, NOT NOW, NOT EVER, from the number one privacy offender on the planet. Surfer, your idea will totally ELIMINATE the conflicting and confused Cook positions once and for all: refuse the dirty money and do not set a default engine In Safari — simply let the user decide, always…

  3. A few years ago, a supposedly “connected” former Apple bigwig posted a blog — referenced by Daring Fireball at the time — saying that before Steve Jobs died, he launched a secret internal project called “Found,” an Apple search engine to compete with Google. The post also indicated that “Found” was the one thing he begged Tim Cook not to give up on. The post even suggested a launch date. However, the launch date came and went and nothing was announced. However, I still think about it…

    1. The same guy that says ‘Don’t do what I would do, just do what’s right’ implored Tim Cook to ‘Do what I would do.’ Just doesn’t quite align. Well, one way to tell is to use Google to search DaringFireball.

      Hmmm, doesn’t appear to be a thing.

      1. Steve’s biggest mistake was Cook. Steve should never be allowed to choose CEOs. Trained monkeys could do at least as good as Cook given the money printing machine Jobs created

    1. Whaaaaaat? People should show some personal responsibility and take care of their privacy instead of incessantly whining? What a concept! I agree BTW.

  4. I use alternatives to google especially DDG and rarely use it because results aren’t up to scratch and I am heavy in research especially pic research so no light user.

  5. Apple should “front-end” Google search by providing an apple.com site that funnels your Google searches and result selection through an Apple proxy. That proxy, searching on behalf of all users, would leave Google with a single “person” to track as a whole: “The Apple User Community”. Presumably this would prevent any targeted analysis/profiling on search habits. I’m guessing however, that terms of use from Google already preclude this simple solution otherwise it would already be available.

  6. If Cook tagged products “beta” for everything that wasn’t ready for primetime, then most of the devices and services released would still be beta.

    Imagine what come out from the long congested Pipeline:

    2013 Mac Pro Trashcan Beta
    2014 Mac Mini Special Neutered Beta
    2015 Apple TV Attempted Reboot Beta with StupidRemote
    2016 Apple Watch Series Beta1
    2017 iPhone Face-$1000-id Beta
    2018 Nothing All New, just incremental updates Beta
    2019 Mac Pro Beta II XPR Super Series Rose Gold Edition

    It would be funny if it wasn’t such a train wreck of bad product management.

  7. I use Duck Duck Go as my default search engine and it is fine. Very once and a while, however, I need to use Google to do a deep search and I always worry that I am giving a piece of me away

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