Apple is taking steps to rid its mobile operating system of features offered by Google. Google’s positions are being attacked in three directions at once – in cartography and geolocation services, in the field of search services and in advertising policy.
The two Silicon Valley giants have been rivals in the smartphone market since Google acquired and popularized the Android operating system in the 2000s. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs called Android a “stolen product” that mimicked Apple’s iOS mobile software and then declared “thermonuclear war” on Google, ousting then-search company CEO Eric Schmidt from Apple’s board of directors in 2009.
Although the rivalry has since become less vocal, two former Apple engineers said the iPhone maker has “carried a grudge” against Google since then. They argue that Apple is still waging a “silent war” against its nemesis by developing features that could allow the iPhone maker to further separate its products from the services offered by Google.
Back in 2012, Apple released the Maps app, which was supposed to supplant the Google Maps app as preinstalled on the iPhone. However, many shortcomings and errors prevented Apple’s mapping service from getting rid of a competitor. It should be noted that over the past decade, Apple Maps has improved significantly. In particular, the Business Connect function for interaction of business with users is announced. It takes advantage of the Apple operating system, providing iOS users with unique features such as seamless integration with Apple Pay or Business Chat, a text-based commerce communication tool.
There are also changes on the search front. Apple has long been working on what is known internally as Apple Search. It dates back to at least 2013, after acquiring startup Topsy Labs, which indexed Twitter to provide search and analytics. This technology is used in Apple’s Siri voice assistant and Spotlight on Mac. Apple Search took off with its 2019 purchase of Laserlike, an artificial intelligence startup founded by ex-Google engineers that described its mission as providing “high-quality information and diverse perspectives on any topic across the Web.”
Analysts say Apple could quickly increase its share of the search market if it removes the default Google search for its 1.2 billion iPhone users. But such a waiver would come at a cost to Apple, as Google pays Apple between $8 billion and $12 billion a year to make Google the default search engine on iOS. However, Google’s ousting would play well with Apple’s privacy-focused software changes and associated marketing campaign, and would also potentially deal a huge blow to Google’s business.
The third front in Apple’s battle may be the most devastating: it’s online advertising ambitions, where Alphabet makes over 80% of its revenue. Apple is building a new ad network that will change how ads are delivered to iPhone users and won’t share sensitive data with third-party ad brokers. In September, Keith Weisburg, who previously worked for ten years at Google and YouTube, was the senior product manager at Amazon DSP, became the head of this direction.
“Apple’s actions on all three fronts have made Alphabet’s position in iOS more vulnerable than ever before,” said Andrew Lipsman, analyst at Insider Intelligence. “Apple is increasingly interested in getting into the search business. Search is the key to a huge amount of raw data, and this is the new battlefield for the future of digital advertising.”
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