Reports about Apple developing an alternative to Google search have been circulating for several years now. A new report today reveals that the Cupertino tech giant still has a long way to go before it can create “search capabilities that might compete head-on with Google’s.”
Senior direction for Apple’s search team returns to Google
In 2019, Apple acquired Laserlike, a startup known for its AI efforts, that was founded by former Google engineers. The Information recently reported that Laserlike’s founders have returned to Google. Laserlike cofounder Srinivasan Venkatachary, who served as senior director for Apple’s search team, is one of the notable figures who left Apple for Google.
Venkatachary is now vice president of engineering at Google under James Manyika, senior vice president of technology and society, whose portfolio includes a group tasked with tracking how technologies such as artificial intelligence are affecting social issues, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Venkatachary’s fellow Laserlike co-founders, Steven Baker and Anand Shukla, are also part of his team, this person said. It couldn’t be learned what the former Apple employees are working on specifically.
The report goes on to note that even though there is rising competition between Apple and Google, the companies have yearly multi-billion-dollar agreements. Google manually pays Apple an estimated $18 billion to $20 billion to ensure that it remains the primary search engine within Apple’s ecosystem. The arrangement has been criticized for its anti-competitive nature.
As of right now, there is not a lot of information available on whether or not Apple is serious about creating its own search engine. However, even if it intends to do so, the move is “at least four years away,” the report notes.
Apple is still at least four years away from launching a potential Google search replacement, estimated the person who has been involved with the team. Doing so would undoubtedly require a significant increase in the team’s budget. Apple might also be able to strike a deal with Microsoft’s Bing that’s similar to the one Apple has with Google, as Bing has a relatively small share of the search market.
In the meantime, the report says that Apple is working on expanding its intelligence capabilities, specifically for Apple Music and the App Store.