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What if Apple built a search engine?

Posted by comtech3 on November 14, 2008

November 13, 2008 11:18 AM PST

Posted by Don Reisinger

is reporting today that it has heard some rumblings about the possibility of Apple developing a search engine to compete with Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. According to the publication, it believes that Apple’s reason for doing so is its desire to find another avenue of monetization for all the traffic it can capture through its Safari browser and elsewhere across the Web.

But after some digging, TechCrunch found that the chances of Apple working on a search engine in secret right now are relatively low and the Silicon Valley has heard little about the possibility of Apple turning to another sector in the industry.

I don’t think there’s any debating that the rumors are false and the very idea that Apple will develop a search engine sounds ridiculous. Apple’s current strategy is tied to its hardware and there’s no reason for the company to jump into another market.

But now that we’ve rejected the notion of Apple developing a search engine, why not explore it a bit more? What if Apple developed a search engine? Would it lead to bigger and better things or prove to be the company’s downfall? Would it captivate consumers the way it does with its hardware or fall flat on its face?

The possibility is just a bit too delicious to pass up.

If Apple developed a search engine, I don’t think there’s any doubting that the company would have its sights set firmly on Microsoft. Sure, Google is still the leader in the market and maybe Apple should be focusing its attention there, but let’s face it–Apple and any other company in the space won’t be able to catch Google no matter how useful its search engine is. Why? Because Google was the first to understand that success in the market means getting rid of you and since so many people have found that experience through Google, there’s really no reason to switch.

But when it comes to building a search engine (remember, we’re assuming Apple is in this example), Steve Jobs would love to focus all his attention on Microsoft. You remember Microsoft, right? It’s the company that beat Apple in the software space years ago and the main reason why Steve Jobs isn’t as rich as Bill Gates today. But more importantly, Apple’s Safari browser has always tried to one-up Internet Explorer and there’s no reason to suggest Apple Search wouldn’t try to do the same to Live.

Now that we know Apple’s competitor, what is its motivation for developing a search engine? At its lowest level, it’s cash. But what if Apple’s search engine is just a precursor to its desire to break into the online world in a big way? Maybe a search engine will allow Apple to make the case to shareholders that diving into the online world with all that extra cash it has hanging around really is worth it.

But then again, success in the search engine space will be required in order for Steve Jobs to get the go-ahead to expand online. And if Microsoft has taught us anything, tens of billions of dollars isn’t enough to be successful in search.

The possibilities for Apple are endless and the reasons for breaking into the search engine market are numerous. And although most us can probably agree that Apple will never release a search engine, I think the case can be made quite easily that if it’s serious about the online world and it wants to put even more pressure on Microsoft, developing an outstanding search engine that goes above and beyond the scope already offered from Live might be a good place to start.

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