Apple has plans in motion to improve the search engine functionality across the App Store, and other apps, according to Bloomberg. In his Power On newsletter, Mark Gurman reports that Apple aims to enhance its existing internal search engine, currently codenamed “Pegasus”. Apple also seemingly seeks to use its own search technology as leverage in its negotiations with Google, who currently pays Apple a sizeable sum to ensure its search engine remains the default on Apple products.
Using ‘Pegasus' as Leverage in Google Negotiations
With ‘Pegasus' in its arsenal, Apple has the capacity to demand greater sums from Google for retaining its default search engine status on Apple products. As per Bloomberg's report, Apple has already started integrating its new search technology into a selection of its apps, with plans to implement it into the App Store soon. One notable pairing of Apple's search tech and Google is in ‘Spotlight,' where users can be directed to sites that could answer their queries. With the Pegasus project, Apple aims to further integrate this search functionality into iOS and macOS.
Former Google Executive Overseeing Pegasus Project
Leading the Pegasus initiative is John Giannandrea, a former Google executive, and his team. They aim to employ generative AI tools to supercharge the search engine functionality. In the past, Apple took steps to enhance its information database by launching Business Connect. This feature provides valuable business details such as operation hours and business locations, increasing Apple's capacity to challenge Google.
Potential for a Standalone Apple Search Engine?
Despite not launching its own search engine, Apple has shown significant interest in the area. Reports from this past September, outline that Apple had discussions in 2020 with Microsoft regarding a possible acquisition of the Bing search engine. However, even though the purchase did not occur, Apple continues to work on its software search capabilities. By doing so, it maintains leverage with Google, by presenting potential competition.
The combination of this highly integrated Spotlight search, along with Apple's thriving App Store advertisement business which targets applications such as Apple News and Weather, implies that creating a standalone search engine could be within Apple's reach. Apple's current position allows for the possibility of launching their very own search engine. However, it's uncertain if the company will make such a move.
Apple's senior vice president Eddie Cue has previously stated that developing a standalone search engine wasn't necessary for Apple. As Apple continues to advance its internal search functionality, the possibility of a standalone search engine cannot be disregarded. But as of now, the company seems keen on focusing its efforts on enhancing the user experience within its own ecosystem.