For years, Google has anxiously monitored Apple’s progress in the search technology realm, uncertain whether its longtime partner and occasional competitor would ultimately build its own search engine. Google’s concerns came to a head in 2021 when it reportedly paid Apple a staggering $18 billion to secure its position as the default search engine on iPhones. Coincidentally, the same year saw Apple’s iPhone search tool, Spotlight, displaying web results comparable to those provided by Google. Faced with these developments, Google quietly devised strategies to counter Apple’s search ambitions, seeking to rival Spotlight with its own version for iPhones and persuade iPhone users to adopt Google’s Chrome web browser over Apple’s Safari.
Internal documents from Google, reviewed by The New York Times, shed light on the company’s covert plans to hamper Apple’s search ambitions. One key objective was to undermine Spotlight by creating a comparable tool exclusively for iPhones. This approach would enable Google to wrestle back control and prevent users from migrating to an Apple-designed search engine.
Persuading Users to Choose Chrome:
Alongside efforts to challenge Spotlight, Google explored methods to incentivize iPhone users to embrace its Chrome web browser rather than relying on Apple’s Safari. By securing a larger user base for Chrome, Google aimed to solidify its dominance in the search business and distance itself from Apple’s potential encroachment.
Harnessing European Law:
Google also considered utilizing a newly introduced European law, designed to foster competition and empower smaller firms, as a means to challenge Apple’s stranglehold on the iPhone. This tactical move illustrated Google’s determination to protect its paramount position in the search industry, even if it meant employing regulatory frameworks to level the playing field.
Navigating a Complex Relationship:
While Google and Apple have been known to compete in the consumer gadget and software arena, they have simultaneously maintained a mutually beneficial partnership, particularly in Google’s mobile ads business. Having worked together for over a decade, the delicate balance between cooperation and rivalry has become integral to the strategies of both tech giants.
Google’s ongoing concerns about Apple’s potential expansion into the search engine world have driven the company to adopt precautionary measures aimed at safeguarding its search dominance. By developing solutions to rival Apple’s search tools and leveraging legislative methods to disrupt its competition, Google is laying the groundwork to mitigate any encroachment on its territory. As the battle for control intensifies, the complex dynamics between these two tech behemoths will continue to shape the ever-evolving landscape of the digital ecosystem.