From a user experience standpoint, search is a central function of any software ecosystem. It allows you to navigate and find what you want easily and fast.
For a company like Apple, which offers a multi-platform multi-device ecosystem that handles contacts, applications, documents, calendars, maps and a host of other services, search is what glues everything together. Apple’s devices and software are a meant for users who consume vast amounts of information, thus a search engine becomes the means to finding content.
Apple vs. Google vs. Bing
So far, Apple has gotten away with relying on Google search for searching the web on its iOS and OS X operating systems, but the two companies have become increasingly rivals in many areas and from a strategic stand point, it doesn’t make much sense to feed one of your worse enemies by sending them free users. Getting back at Google as retaliation for their invasion into Apple’s smart phone business shouldn’t be the motivation though. The motivation should be to provide Apple customers a great user experience, and a revolutionary new approach to search might just do that.
Apple has had to turn to the Bing search engine as a temporary solution, but then again, Apple finds itself in the hands of Microsoft, a company with which they’ve had a long history of rivalry.
A faster way to for Apple to get into the search business could be to acquire a well-established search engine such as Bing but this option is pretty much off the table as Bill Gates recently shared his view that Bing should not be spun off Microsoft as he sees it as a “fundamental technology” vital to Microsoft.
Microsoft with its Bing search engine has already demonstrated how hard it is to succeed in the search market and compete against Google. After 5 years of improvements and development it presently only has 18.7% market share.
What Apple Needs To Do
What Apple needs to do is not easy by any means; it needs to be build a search engine from scratch and it needs to develop the competencies that go with that titanic task. The time and effort that would go into building a search engine would also benefit the company as a whole in the long term since the technology it would develop and data that it would gather would help improve other services the company already offers such as Apple maps, Siri and its productivity suite.
Already in the new Yosemite operating system, we see hints of Apple moving in that direction.