While we all wait for Apple to unveil its long-rumoured AR/VR headset to take on Meta and Sony, a new report claims Apple is quietly targeting another competitor with a less obvious effort. According to the Financial Times (subscription required), Apple is making significant efforts to separate its core smartphone services from Google, including Maps, online advertising and the biggest prize of all, search.
In its story, the Financial Times cites two former Apple engineers who know about Apple’s “resentment” towards Google. Apparently, Apple has never forgiven Google for its iPhone-inspired Android operating system, and executives have entered Steve Jobs’ “thermonuclear war” against the company. Apple is reportedly focusing on three main areas dominated by Google:
- Cards: Apple Maps’ bumpy start didn’t help it in competition with Google Maps. But since its release a decade ago, Apple Maps has improved significantly, with new internal maps and several features that rival Google’s tight integration, including the recent Business Connect that counters Google’s Yelp integration and integrates seamlessly into iOS.
- To search: Apple has been developing a search feature for at least a decade and has been rumored for a while. The acquisitions of Topsy Labs and Laserlike were key to this effort, which has proven difficult and costly. It’s common knowledge that Google pays Apple billions a year to become the default search engine on iOS, so an Apple search engine will probably be a gradual effort through Spotlight.
- Online advertisements: Lately, Apple has been making major staff additions to its ad 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 the way ads are delivered to iPhone users and keep outside data brokers out of the loop.”
Apple’s strong reputation for protecting user privacy can be a huge advantage in this battle. Despite efforts to increase transparency, Google has a reputation for collecting user data and Apple has drawn a deep line between the iPhone and Android phones. On the search front in particular, Apple could position Safari as a privacy-first browser like DuckDuckGo, creating an Apple search engine similar to Google’s original concept before it was flooded with ads.
Apple’s desire to catch up with Google services on the iPhone isn’t new. The Maps contest has been open since the launch of Apple Maps in 2012, and rumors of an Apple search engine have been circulating for years. And Apple’s recent efforts with advertising have been noticed with its App Store ads. Essentially, the Financial Times report is a reminder that this “silent war” is still going on with billions of dollars and iPhone users at stake.