Credit: Philipp Pistis / Pixabay

Google has been the undisputed search engine champion for 22 years now, with everybody else playing for a very distant second. 

It’s a long time at the top, and while plenty of people feel it’s not as incredibly useful as it once was, there’s still no real challenger waiting in the wings. If Microsoft can’t force Windows’ market dominance to make Bing anything more than a punchline, then what hope anyone else?

Well, maybe the richest company in the world can help. According to blogger Robert Scoble, Apple has plans for its own search engine and he told TechRadar that it would be “the most expensive product launch of all time”, which is quite something for a company that spends billions telling people they want a new iPhone every year.

Don’t expect anything at this month’s WWDC developers conference — Scoble believes this is something instead set for January, alongside the long awaited mixed reality headset.

More importantly, it’s not clear exactly what we’re expecting here: something to improve search within macOS/iOS, something to finally make Siri feel smart, or a genuine fully blown Google alternative? Crucially, Scoble doesn’t know either. When asked directly on Twitter, he had this to say:

That Siri functionality certainly seems to be a big part of it though, as he told someone else:

While a smarter Siri would be very handy — especially with HomePod rumoured to return this year — a full search engine could be a way of making Apple’s comically large reserves of money even greater. 

While Google’s parent company Alphabet doesn’t explicitly say how much of its revenue comes from Google search, it seems likely to have been around US$149 billion (~NZ$229 billion) in 2021. Given the number of people who own iPhones and Macs, a little tweak on Safari could suddenly give Apple a big slice of that delicious money pie. And if it’s good, maybe people will even use it voluntarily on Windows!

But, to quote The Wire, “when you come at the king, you best not miss.” Apple currently makes a reported US$15 billion (~NZ$23 billion) a year by making Google the default search engine on Safari, and apparently one of the terms of that deal is that the company doesn’t make its own search engine. That’s an awful lot of passive income to give up for something that users might immediately disable…

Image: Philipp Pistis / Pixabay