Following on from yesterday’s keynote at WWDC 2014, it’s clear that Apple is not quite ready to become best friends with Google. While it might not be the oft-quoted ‘Thermonuclear War’ promised by Steve Jobs, Tim Cook’s Apple has put even more distance between Mountain View’s infrastructure and the twin operating systems of iOS and OSX. That threatens Google’s mobile search revenue.
The battleground is search. While users will still look to Google when searching in their web browser, the role of search in the modern operating system is more than the browser. It can be evoked in almost any application, and global search is generally a key-press or a touch gesture away.
For Apple this means Spotlight. In the new versions of their operating systems, Google results will be removed from Spotlight and replaced with Microsoft’s Bing. Of course Apple is going to offer searches through iTunes, the App Store, Apple Maps, iBooks, and more, but the prize of web searches in Spotlight now goes to Redmond.
Keen followers of Apple will note that Bing was already powering results for Siri.
It’s not a total wipe-out, users searching in Safari will see results from Google, but Apple is slowly winding back their reliance on Google. Wherever web searching remains visible to the user, Google will likely remain in the short to medium term, But in areas where users are searching and just want results rather than Google results, Apple is using alternative providers. Bing is one. DuckDuckGo for private search is another.
Android may hold the larger market share, but Apple generates more web traffic. Android represents only 44.5% of web traffic generated by smartphones in North America, while Apple accounts for a majority with 53.1% and I would assume that means the lions share of mobile search queries. As mobile continues to grow, Google will need to adapt to the changing mobile space if Mountain View wishes to remain the number one search engine. That adaption can no longer count on any search engine traffic coming from Apple.