It’s Already Happening: Apple’s Search Engine Sneaks Up on Google
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It’s Already Happening: Apple’s Search Engine Sneaks Up on Google

Industry | May 15, 2022

Or swipe down from the middle on newer iPhones (or left to right) and you’ll see a Search box at the top of your screen.

A Universal Search Tool 

Originally designed to enable Mac users to find all local files, documents, pictures, music, and applications on their computers, Spotlight has quietly tippy-toed its way into becoming a global search engine. You can use it to perform web searches without first needing to be in a browser: hit command, spacebar and voila, a bunch of resources spring forth.

So now if you pull up Spotlight and type in “retail marketing,” you’ll get a clickable list of web resources, and underneath, any document or spreadsheet on your Mac that contains the phrase “retail marketing” will also appear. 

Search tool

The Lawsuit Came First 

In 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice began suing Google for violating antitrust laws. According to the DOJ and 11 state Attorneys General, the Department is filing its complaint against Google to restore competition in search and search advertising markets.

The reason? “As with its historic antitrust actions against AT&T in 1974 and Microsoft in 1998, the Department is again enforcing the Sherman Act to restore the role of competition and open the door to the next wave of innovation—this time in vital digital markets,” said [now former] Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen.

According to the DOJ, Google is responsible for almost 90% of all search queries in the U.S., “and has used anti-competitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in search and search advertising.”

They continue, “Decades ago the Department’s case against Microsoft recognized that the antitrust laws forbid anti-competitive agreements by high-technology monopolists to require pre-installed default status, to shut off distribution channels to rivals, and to make software undeletable. The Complaint alleges that Google is using similar agreements itself to maintain and extend its own dominance.” 


What’s Happening Now 

Relationships between giants can get complicated. Google and Apple have created a sort of “truce,” whereby Apple receives somewhere between $8 billion to $18 billion a year for Google to remain the default search engine on Apple’s iOS devices.

Some digital media experts suggest that as long as Google pays Apple a sizable yearly subscription, Apple is unlikely to overtake Google as a real search engine competitor.

But others aren’t so sure, since a Spotlight search will yield not only web links and documents, but also cloud-based results, YouTube videos, and even relevant text messages. Spotlight is ad-free, and Apple has historically been more concerned with privacy than Google and provides users with methods to evade tracking.


What’s Next? 

Stay tuned as Spotlight matures and Apple continues to innovate. 

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