While we’re all waiting for Apple to unveil its long-rumored AR/VR headset to take on Meta and Sony, a new report claims Apple is silently targeting another competitor with a less-obvious effort. According to the Financial Times (subscription required), Apple is making a considerable effort to separate its main smartphone services from Google, including Maps, online ads, and the biggest prize of all, search.
In its story, the Financial Times sources two former Apple engineers who have knowledge of Apple’s “grudge” against Google. Apparently, Apple has never forgiven Google for its iPhone-inspired Android operating system, and executives have taken up Steve Jobs’ “thermonuclear war” against the company. Apple is reportedly concentrating on three main areas that are dominated by Google:
- Maps: Apple Maps’ bumpy start didn’t help in its competition with Google Maps. But since its release a decade ago, Apple Maps has improved significantly, with new in-house maps and several features that rival Google’s tight integration, including the recent Business Connect that counters Google’s Yelp integration and seamlessly integrates into iOS.
- Search: Apple has been developing a search tool for at least a decade and has been rumored for some time. Its acquisitions of Topsy Labs and Laserlike were key to this effort, which has proven difficult and costly. It’s well known that Google pays Apple billions a year to be the default search engine on iOS, so an Apple search engine is likely to be a gradual effort through Spotlight.
- Online ads: Lately, Apple has made major personnel additions to its advertising group in an effort to compete with Google, including ads in the App Store. The Financial Times reports that Apple wants to create an ad network “that would reshape how ads are delivered to iPhone users and keep third-party data brokers out of the loop.”
Apple’s strong reputation for protecting user privacy could be a huge advantage in this fight. Despite efforts to increase transparency, Google has a reputation for harvesting user data, and Apple has drawn a deep line in the sand between the iPhone and Android phones. Particularly with search, Apple could position Safari as a privacy-first browser like DuckDuckGo, creating an Apple search engine that’s similar to Google’s original concept before it became inundated with ads.
Apple’s desire to overtake Google services on the iPhone isn’t new. The Maps competition has been out in the open ever since Apple Maps launched in 2012, and rumors about an Apple search engine have run through the mill for years. And Apple’s recent efforts with advertising have been noted with its App Store ads. Essentially, the Financial Times’s report is a reminder that this “silent war” is still going on with billions of dollars and iPhone users at stake.