back to article Is Apple plotting a search of its own?

Could Apple offer its own branded search, to compete with Google, Bing/Yahoo! and every other search engine available through a browser? There have been a couple of recent mentions of the idea on the web, and Silicon Valley Watcher, Tom Foremski's blog. Techcrunch reported lots of rumours about an Apple …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spotlight Shuffle?

    Internet search refined to just one 'Search' button, followed by a list of random links. Then a year or two later, a second, stripped down version without even a webpage - it just loads something at random.

  2. Michael Hutchinson
    Thumb Down

    It's all speculation - but wouldn't it be fun if Apple did come up with its own search engine?


  3. fifi

    market share?

    Ditching google for an inhouse search might work in the long-term, but in the short term, you've got the majority using google, and a reliable revenue from that. Some might say it's better to have 1% of something than 100% of nothing, if the inhouse search can't muster up the advertising revenues. It's making that leap from loss leader to profit maker that'll be tricky. That being said, I can imagine a lot of cross selling on apps and music based on search criteria.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Worst. Idea. EVAR.

    mmm, yes, good idea to flush billions down the toilet.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Brand image

    Would Apple really want to be associated with all that porn?

  6. Solomon Grundy

    No Fun at All

    It would be a waste of time if Apple came up with another search engine. Do you not remember the pre-Google days when there were a zillion different search engines and how much more the Internet sucked? Why restart a war that's already been won?

    Besides, Apple is rolling strong on the portable device front, why branch out and risk that side of the brand due to screwy search? It's outside of their realm and really risky.

  7. A. F. Fero

    It all help overturns Computing == MSFT

    As with Firefox, As with Google advertising Google Docs, Apple v Google slowly but surely helps "it doesn't have to be Microsoft" gain popular mindshare, which is good for everyone.

    Alternatively, the Apple search engine will just return results for the nearest Apple Store, iTunes and iPhone, which is surely all Apple users want? :)

  8. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Spotlight vs. Google

    You'd have to do a fuck of a lot more than put Spotlight on some servers. Apple might get somewhere using the brand to sell to customers to selected partners, data protection issues notwithstanding. Apple does have some outstanding engineers but little experience of the software development that Google is involved in.

    The article is also flawed suggesting that Chrome competes with Safari. Apple doesn't release Safari to earn brownie points but to provide a front-end to iTunes store. Of course, Google is aiming to do something similar with Chrome by providing the best runtime for Google Apps shit.

  9. Britt Johnston
    Jobs Horns

    quick HAL test

    Type "apple new model" to see how they express "I can't tell you that, Dave".

    i-guff rather than i-hate.

  10. Conrad Longmore

    Just Google for..

    Just Google for "Apple Censorship" and you can see what Apple's search engine might be like.. or *not* like.

  11. Colin MacLean

    Pirates baying

    I can imagine torrent searches would redirect to the iTunes store.

  12. Frank Bough

    Please God no

    Spotlight works well on my local and networked volumes, but the idea of an Apple t'internet experience beyond their website fills me with horrible memories of eWorld and Cyberdog.

  13. JWS


    Based on Apple's track record the search engine would initially do very little then every year for about 4 years would get more and more functionality until it finally caught up with the rest of the world. It also wouldn't surprise me if they charged for the use of it either!

  14. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Down

    Wouldn't matter so much if Google worked better on the iPhone

    I agree, internet search on the iPhone is pants. But it would mainly help if Google created a decent iPhone application to cover all their services. The current application appears to just be a launching pad for opening services in Safari. Native app fail.

  15. 4a$$Monkey
    Jobs Horns

    They will get a market share...

    ... because the fanboys will use anything apple make regardless of how s*** it is.

  16. Paul 4
    Jobs Horns

    Will it go somthing like....

    every time you use it it will try and force Safai, Quick Time and iTunes on you. When you say no it will then claim they are critical updates. When you say no again it will leave you alown and then download them in the background anyway.

  17. Robert 3
    Jobs Halo


    I'd be totally geeked by this. I'm so over Google, but there's no better search.

  18. sleepy

    Apple search not likely at the moment

    The industry isn't done with finishing off Microsoft yet. The daggers have been plunged into MS, but they still have to die, or at least go into intensive care.

    There's a way to go yet for Apple and Google to work together on their joint programme to influence the future of the internet. The programme is: open formats and protocols, and content-neutral (mobile) unmetered data pipes. So Google can see everything, and therefore not be locked out of comprehensive search and the resulting advertising revenues, and so everone can see Google's servers without extra charges. So Apple's hardware gadgets can access everything without MS, Adobe or anyone else owning a controlling licensing gateway, and, yes, so Apple's paid-for services also have a level playing field for access.

    Google - ad funded services; Apple - hardware and user-funded services. And of course they both need any monopoly to be a natural one, not the result of illegal actions - hence the need for Eric Schmidt's resignation from Apple's board.

    Microsoft's two notable own-goals in this were made several years ago: the first was switching Xbox from X86 to powerPC (for fear of selling virtually complete PC hardware for half the price of their OEM partners). This loosened their grip on Intel, and finally let Apple safely switch to Intel. Second own-goal: giving Apple a presumably indefinitely renewable license for Exchange Server access (presumably for fear Apple would fail, and regulators would finally put the bite on MS for real). Within weeks, not just iPhone and iPod, but every MacOS machine will work with Exchange Server out of the box, at no extra cost. Microsoft's lock on the enterprise, on media formats, and on proprietary protocols is finally completely gone. All the essentials now have alternatives. To rub salt into the wound, Exchange integration is a paid-for extra for Windows, but free for OSX.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    With Apples penchant for being anal with regard to their products, an Apple search engine would only allow search results it wants you to see. Search for Windows and you'll get Everest, search for Microsoft and you'll get search for Linux and you'll get Darwin. The only people who would have an interest in an Apple search engine would be China, only China is much more open than Apple ever will be.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    no crawlers - no search engine

    not seen any new web crawlers (Apple or other fruits) at work through web usage logs so not likely to happen anytime soon...

    previous 'google killer' launches were preceded by months of web crawler activity while they build their indexes...

    - beer...because I've got the DTs......anon because i don't want anyone to know.

  21. James O'Shea Silver badge

    @Frank Bough

    eWorld, yes, but what was wrong with Cyberdog? I liked it better than what MSIE had available at the time...

    To be sure I did have a IIsi with 17 MB at the time, so OpenDoc's rabid appetite for RAM was not a problem. And that was an OpenDoc problem, not a Cyberdog problem.

    I didn't see a web browser which behaved as nicely as Cyberdog until Firefox 2.

  22. Daniel 1

    I think Apple need to see direct profit on each unit sale

    It seems to be the only business model Apple understands. The Apple mindset is almost Victorian in this respect: sell nothing at a loss, and you will still be there, to sell again, tomorrow. That's why the hardware cost so much. It's priced so that, even at the worst times of component supply, each unit is selling at a steady profit. The whole idea of stacking Inspirons high and cheap, and selling half of them at a dead loss, in order that the over all number from the production run comes out positive, is alien to Apple Computers. The idea Apple would want its own search engine (for no other reason, than some vague goal of world domination... of something or other) is baffing.

    Profit: turn a profit. That's what Apple is about. God knows, their approach has been vindicated, of late. Even though Google is, itself, profitable, it is not the kind of profit that Apple recognises or wants any part of.

    The reason Schidt was on the board at Apple, was to push the whole mobile-Web idea to consumers, because getting people to use the Web all the time, for everything, is the best way he can grow his business. In a world where Symbian development resembles something from the days of Batch Processing on on a UNIVAC, and Windows Mobile still doesn't ship with a fully functional 21st Century Web browser, Apple was the best bet in town, for pushing the network, and the Web, into people's pockets - which is exactly what has happened. In three years time, the network we have now, will look like something from the days of dial-up modems.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    A commendable option?

    The only commendable option is a chance, however slim, that it might be a better managed search engine and so fit for family use, educational use and also filter out rogue adverts.

    But on the other hand that looks like a lot of hours of work.

    A business model letting advertisements in to a closed Apple user community is surely attractive so, I wonder, will the costs balance out?

    Will the pain be worth the gain?

  24. Jolyon Ralph
    Thumb Down

    Innovation in search

    The only way that people will dent Google's monopoly in search is to provide innovative new ways to search and find stuff online.

    Microsoft tried with Bing (good effort guys) but didn't quite come up with anything that makes people go wow.

    Trying to say "our search results are better because.." isn't going to cut it. Google works well, very well, and most people won't see that as a reason to change.

    Traditionally, large companies fail to innovate and rivals (especially smaller ones) come up with some innovative way of improving what they do and take market share.

    The problem is that Google continue to innovate, and because of this everyone else in the search engine market is fighting for scraps.

    Apple are innovators of course, and it may be that they have a few tricks up their sleeves, but I very much doubt it.

    I suspect any Apple search engine will end up a "Safari for Windows" exercise in pointlessness.


  25. Jonathan White

    @Charlie Clark

    "Apple doesn't release Safari to earn brownie points but to provide a front-end to iTunes store."

    What? The front end to the iTunes store is er... iTunes. You know, free download, was cross platform years before Safari, the standard way to get stuff onto an iPod, you know, THAT iTunes?

    Apple made Safari because MS had allowed the Mac version of IE to rot on the vine. By the time Safari hit the world, Mac IE was about three versions behind windows IE code and even further behind the likes of Firefox and Camino. Apple made Safari because they felt there had to be a web browser there when you switched the machine on the first time and at that point Mac Firefox was clunky and, frankly, ugly as sin.

    They already had some parts of a browser there (because iTunes does use webkit after all) but the decision to actually make a browser themselves has absolutely sod all to do with the iTMS.


  26. Reverend Brown
    Thumb Down


    No. Just... no.

  27. windywoo

    Apple Search wouldn't be free.

    They'd charge $60 a year for you to use it, it would only work fully on OSX, and would constantly insult your taste in clothes,operating system and desktop wallpaper.

  28. James 55

    Pigs could fly

    If you put wings on them.

  29. Grumpytom
    Jobs Halo

    You Gotta

    You gotta admire the strategic thinking at Apple, slowly and surely they are putting together a hell of an operation.

    As a long term mac user (yes 1984 no less) I have stood the brickbats of being in the minority and when Jobs said he aimed to be at the centre of the digital hub (many yeas ago) I thought he was just not clinging to reality. Truth he he had vision, (I didn't) he has a good designer in Ives and he had the balls to ditch an outmoded OS.

    So is this another click on the digital odometer.

  30. Phil Rigby

    Maybe, maybe not

    They might do it, but as pointed out first they need to webcrawl the internet before they can start offering anything to the public, and i think if they did, it would soon go the way of Apple TV - sounds good, looks good, but has no staying power.

  31. B 9

    Look at what Apple does

    They look at areas where people are not satisfied, and they try to build a better mousetrap (with varying degrees of success). iPhone, iPods, Time Machine, Time Capsule, etc. Those are all areas where no one was doing anything particularly well and Apple engineered a more user friendly solution. I don't see this being the same with search. I never hear (outside of snooty technical circles, which don't count) consumers complaining about search. Most are very happy with Google or Yahoo. There is no nitch to fill here. It's the same with the once popular idea (among brainless tech "analysts") of an Apple branded TV with a built in media center. The TV has been done to death, and there is no real upside to trying to compete in that market.

    No, there will be no Apple search. They will continue to use Google for the default engine in Safari and they won't give it a second thought, since there is no need to. . .

  32. snafu
    Jobs Horns


    Spotlight, as a Search anything, is horrible enough on the desktop (try doing a semicomplex query, have fun). As an Internet Search Engine it surely would run afoul of the Geneva Convention (and the Helvetica Treaty, and the Frutiger Accord, the Dingbats Flashmob and...)

  33. Ed

    I doubt it

    Seems really unlikely to me - why would they? Focusing on Mobile Me would seem more profitable.

    Anyway, if it does exist, we'll know about it long before it's launched as everyone will see the bots in their logs...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Next stupid unsourced rumour, please.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @B 9 - I want a better mousetrap

    Used to be that the top google result was often what I was actually looking for. These days it's far more likely to be a gamed link from some ecommerce website or a Wikipedia article. Product reviews are particularly stricken by this issue. I often find myself having to go three+ pages deep into google search results to start finding relevant pages.

    I hope that there is scope to do search better than google. I just don't know if it's technically possible.

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