Apple has all the elements to create its own search engine for its devices should it decide to end its reliance on Google, according to a new report.
Google has been the iPhone's default search engine for more than a decade, with the web giant reportedly paying Apple between $8 billion and $12 billion each year as part of the deal. But the deal is complicated by US government charges that Google maintains a monopoly in online search and online ad sales.
As lucrative as that deal is, Apple could do better, argues Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in his Power On newsletter Sunday. If Apple were to launch its own search engine, the advertising revenue it could generate would likely rival the stream of money that comes from the Apple Watch market, he said.
While calling such a move a "long shot," Gurman pointed out that Apple has already provided a glimpse of what such an offering would look like, having built search engines into services such as App Store, Maps, Apple TV and News.
As part of the possible effort, Apple has a team that's been creating a next-generation search engine codenamed Pegasus. The technology, being developing under the supervision of John Giannandrea, Apple's senior vice president of machine learning and AI, more accurately surfaces results. Gurman writes. The technology is already in some apps and could one day show up in the App Store, he said.
Apple's also been tinkering with Spotlight, its search feature that helps iOS users find things on their devices. Apple started adding web search results to this tool a few years ago, Gurman noted, but those results were supplied by either Google or Microsoft's Bing.
The search engine speculation comes amid the ongoing Google antitrust lawsuit brought forward by the US Department of Justice. Apple was brought on as a witness in the lawsuit regarding its multibillion-dollar deal that makes Google the default search engine on iPhones.
Giannandrea reportedly revealed during testimony in the lawsuit that a new feature in iOS 17 allows you to change the default search engine on your iPhone when using Safari in private browsing mode. In iOS 17, which ships with the new iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro, users can set two default search engines: one for regular browsing and one for private browsing, he said.
Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.