You could wager a hefty bet that Apple is going to launch a search engine in the very, very near future. Here’s why it seems obvious: There have been significant changes to Spotlight Search on iOS and iPadOS 14 beta 5, a fairly large update was made to the Applebot support page and — suddenly — Applebot is performing a lot of crawling across sites. But this move seems counter-intuitive considering Apple receives a nice chunk of change from Google to be the “preferred search engine.”
Google has a deal with Apple that ensures it is the default search engine on Safari for macOS, iOS and iPadOS. This means all Apple consumers are using Google to search on their Mac or iPhone unless they have manually changed this preference in their settings (and very few people are doing that). Google has, for years, willingly paid billions of dollars to Apple to secure this deal. However, it appears it may be drawing to a close.
In July, Reuters reported that the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) believes the deal between Google and Apple creates “a significant barrier to entry and expansion” for any of Google’s competitors. These include Microsoft, Bing, DuckDuckGo and Yahoo. These search engines are also paying Apple to secure a spot as an option for search across all of this tech giant’s devices. So, while Apple gives Google preference, it’s for no other reason other than Google can afford to pay a premium to monopolize the search functionality on Apple products. But the CMA is aggressively trying to put an end to this. You can read the entire final report here. If the CMA takes action against Google, it will add to Google’s ongoing anti-competitive behavior allegations identified and tackled by the European Union.
Now, while Apple receives large sums of money from Google and its counterparts, it doesn’t really need these funds to survive. After all, Apple is the most valuable company in the world. However, if you investigate a little deeper you can see the signs in Apple’s behavior that it is evidently invested in search — among other things, it is actively advertising for search engineers!
Of course, building a new search engine is a big feat. But if any company can do it and actually rival Google for top spot, it’s Apple. So, what does this mean for search marketers? If Apple launches a search engine, a safe hypothesis is that it will be successful and that means we all need to be prepared to jump through all the hoops Apple requires to get to the top of the search results. Search engine optimization (SEO) experts will need to remain flexible in their approach and open to learning new ways of doing things.
Another thought process that Jon Henshaw writes about is that Apple could quietly launch a search engine on its devices and with its users without anyone knowing about it. After all, it is currently bypassing Google entirely when offering the user search results within Spotlight Search. Apple may continue to proffer search results from Spotlight Search and other iOS apps that would naturally have been searched on Google and its users might simply stop needing Google altogether.
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Customer Retention has Taken a Knock in Recent Times, but You Can Fix it Strategically: Consumer behavior is an ever-changing point of interest and in recent times consumers are less loyal and more willing to try out new products and brands. Customer-centric loyalty initiatives are a great retention strategy — here’s a whitepaper from Comarch that offers 16 strategies to boost retention and customer loyalty.
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