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Apple Tests Search

Apple is rumored to be going after a piece of the lucrative search market and is said to be developing technology to topple Google’s reign, a Financial Times (FT) report indicated on Wednesday (Oct. 28), citing familiar sources.

Advancing its own search ingenuity is a turning point for Apple’s in-house development, industry sources told FT. It could be the start of bigger plans to compete with more of Google’s services.

The developments come on the heels of an antitrust lawsuit filed in the U.S. that focuses on the multi-billion dollar search relationship between Google and Apple. Google pays Apple between $8 billion and $12 billion in annual fees to ensure it’s the default search engine on iOS devices.

By advancing its own search capabilities, Apple will have a ready substitute if regulators force the unraveling of its deal with Google.

“They [Apple] have a credible team that I think has the experience and the depth, if they wanted to, to build a more general search engine,” said Bill Coughran, Google’s former engineering chief. He is now a partner at Sequoia Capital.

Suganthan Mohanadasan, a digital marketing consultant, told FT that the Applebot is being seen “a ridiculous number of times” on his clients’ websites. “When the crawl rate increases, that tells us they are trying to gather more information.”

Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 14, recently took over some search functions that were normally handled by Google.

With third quarter revenue of $59.7 billion, an increase of 11 percent from the previous quarter, Apple is in a solid financial position to undertake a massive project like search.

Earlier this month, Google announced plans to launch its own news service and licensing program so it could better compete with Apple News. Its plan is for a friendlier and more productive relationship with content producers. It would pay publishers over $1 billion over the next three years.

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