Is Apple Weaning People Off Google?

    June 2, 2014
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

As you’ve probably heard, Apple revealed its new Mac and iOS operating systems on Monday – OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 respectively. While the company didn’t exactly pitch them as such, it revealed some new features, which some think are designed to take on Google in the search department.

Do you think people will use Google any less as a result of new features unveiled by Apple? Let us know in the comments.

Apple didn’t come out verbally swinging at Google Search, but it certainly had digs at Android. Working up to the iOS 8 presentation, CEO Tim Cook dropped some iOS stats: over 800 million iOS devices sold, 100 million iPod touch units, 200 million iPad units, and 500 million iPhone units. They’ve had over 130 million new-to-Apple customers in the last year.

“Many of these customers were switchers from Android,” Cook said. “They had bought an Android phone by mistake, and then had sought a better experience and a better life. And decided to check out iPhone and iOS. Nearly half of our customers in China in the past six months switched from Android to iPhone.”

According to Cook, 89% of iOS users are running the latest version of the OS, compared to 9% for Android. Over a third of Android users are running a version from four years ago, he said.

“That’s like ancient history,” said Cook. “That means that these customers are not getting great new features. They’re not able to run your latest apps. They don’t get security updates that they may need to stay safe. This is particularly important for Android, which dominates the global malware market.”

iOS 8’s Spotlight feature lets you pull down on the home screen, execute searches, and find matches from the app store, Wikipedia entries, news, maps, songs from your own library and iTunes, movie theater results, content for streaming, etc. In Safari, you can get Spotlight suggestions in addition to Google suggestions. They’re also adding some new search-related features to the App Store, including top trending searches and related searches. Photos also gets some search improvements, like search suggestions based on location, time, and albums.

Of course Siri also got some improvements, including Shazam song recognition, the ability to purchase iTunes content, streaming voice recognition, and 22 new dictation languages.

Apple’s new emphasis on search was more obvious on the desktop though, with Yosemite. Interestingly, while Google still appeared in the Spotlight feature on iOS, in Apple’s presentation, Microsoft told Danny Sullivan that Bing “is powering Spotlight for both the forthcoming versions of Mac OS and iOS.” Apple did show Bing for the Yosemite feature.

The feature here lets you click on the magnifying glass and get a big search field right in the middle of your Mac’s screen. From there, you can quickly search through applications, documents, contacts, calendar, mail, messages, dictionary, calculator, system preferences, Wikipedia, Maps, News, App Store, iTunes Store, iBooks Store, “Top websites,” movie showtimes, and Bing. No mention of Google. We saw Apple get closer with Bing last year after distancing itself from Google in other ways like (most famously) dropping Google Maps, and adding Bing integration to Siri. Now, they appear to be taking it up a notch.

Sullivan even speculates, “It’s also a sign that Apple might be moving to turning Siri into its own branded search engine. Spotlight is handling a variety of different search tasks, similar to how Siri can. That’s a big change, and it could be a move toward Apple further distancing itself from Google search by using Siri as a stand-in.”

How long until Apple’s deal with Google completely evaporates, and Google is no longer the default for Safari, and is all but gone from the iOS experience without users having to manually add it?

Really, it would seem that Apple is encouraging users to use any search engine BUT Google. On its OS X Apps preview page, Apple says:

Safari now gives you more control over your privacy on the web. You can open one Safari window in Private Browsing mode — which doesn’t save your browsing history — while keeping others in regular browsing mode. So while you do your online banking privately in one window, your browsing history is still being saved while you surf in another. You can also now search the web using DuckDuckGo, a search engine that doesn’t track you.

Apple also announced a new SDK for iOS 8 with 4,000 developer APIs. Who knows what will come from all of that? There’s no question that Apple’s latest iOS release is very geared towards developers, and that in and of itself could mean more iOS-first approaches for new apps, leaving Android playing catch-up, which wouldn’t be good for Google in general.

Among its developer offerings are tools for developers to create experiences that enable users to interact with home devices (locks, lights, cameras, doors, thermostats, plugs, switches, etc) and health info. That’s some very personal stuff, and could eventually play into the search experience as well. It all points towards the iDevice as the controller to pretty much a person’s entire life. Google, of course, has its own approach to some of this stuff, but it could all end up turning into separate search engines for separate ecosystems. Apple users will have their search engines, and Android users will have theirs (Google), and ultimately, that could cost Google some market share and ad dollars.

Of course there are plenty of iOS-using Google users who aren’t going to be willing to completely abandon Google, even if they have to make some adjustments manually. Bing has come a long way though, and plenty will likely be willing to give it a try. In fact, Bing is celebrating its fifth birthday, outlining just how far it really has come.

Apple is showing no signs of reversing course, and making its software any more Googley. Google’s developer conference is later this month. We’ll see what they’e got up their sleeve.

Do you think Apple can hurt Google in search? Share your thoughts in the comments.

  • Ron

    Anything that can break the online world’s tethers to Google is a plus! Let’s see of the countless “zombies” that have been groomed by Google can follow suit.

    • A19 Geo.

      I’m an Apple Zombie, support them all the way, hope google aren’t spying on me.

  • Dolce Vita

    YES! Once users see that Google’s search results have turned to crap they won’t go back. A world without Google…amazing!

    • wertwert

      Do not google “pink socks” I promise you wont like the results. Google sucks at search. They are awesome at ads though.

  • John Waite

    I guess I’m not surprised that the only three idiots on here to comment are apple fans.

    • wertwert

      Google pink socks… fan boy. And note that it doesn’t matter if safe search is on because their safe search sucks too. But note how the ads are all on topic… they got ads solid… organic search… not so much

  • Solomon Grundy

    Im willing to bet that if someone paid for an ad about rectal prolapses under the pink sock keyword that they would have a better time with it. I’d say that the organic results are largely derived from culture – when folks search for pink socks, they find urban dictionary more relevant than Amazon.

  • R G

    google is what I hope to always use for search; they ruined you tube for me; but they are so wealthy– they are the 1% so they do not care what I think or feel….absolute power corrupts absolutely

  • Mircea G

    competition is always a good thing

  • CNXTim

    I thought this statement ironic given most of the announced but not delivered features were obviously designed to ape functions already in Android;

    “That’s like ancient history,” said Cook”

  • CDMAuto

    Google’s search results have turned to crap… Dont need Apple…Google is destroying its self …

  • Chris McElroy

    Features, features, features, when is Apple going to make better hardware than Android?

    • wertwet

      My brother came to visit his niece and nephew. His android phone was so slow that he missed just about ever photo op… then it got into a selfie frame mode and froze up. I’m glad I had my iphone 4 which ran circles around it.

      • Tracy Jordan

        I would say that had more to do with the user than the operating system.. probably had too many other apps running.

  • http://nakshaat.com/xf sam

    Google is destroying its self

  • Dave

    Anything that takes users away from Google is great for the Internet. Remember there was an Internet before Google. One day we may get back to that. Let’s hope Google’s constant war on web masters ends in their downfall. I’d love to see Cutt’s have his backside smacked by the door on the way out.

    A truly EVIL company that tracks everything you do. A search engine? I think not, an ad engine, nothing more, nothing less. Extracting every penny from the Internet that it possibly can.

    Maybe those words Page & Brin said will come back to haunt them…..

    “we expect that advertising funded search engines will be inherently biased towards the advertisers and away from the needs of the consumers.”

    yep, YOU said it.


  • Tracy Jordan

    I think more people will stop using Apple because of Google.. Apple products are too expensive for a lot of people, and Google is making it easier to integrate multiple devices – the way Apple does so seamlessly.