Google and Apple Are in a War for the Future of Search!

Apple and Google’s visions for mobile search

war is escalating under our fingertips. While most of us mortals remain unaware, the battle between the gods of information access has reached a new front: the global migration to the mobile web. This shift in user behavior has given Apple an opening to move into the search space, and the company is marching its geeky troops right through it.

Apple’s opponent in the search war is, naturally, Google. Just how much of a threat does Apple pose to the search engine that enjoys 89 percent of global market share? According to various tech industry observers, Apple is either creating a “search engine to destroy Google,” “actively trying to keep users away from” Google or “likely has absolutely no interest in getting into the search market.”

Why the conflict of opinions? According to the mobile marketing specialist atMobileMoxie, Emily Grossman, there just isn’t a straightforward answer. This is no one-to-one competition; it’s not as if Apple is launching an (or! or!).

“It’s kind of nuanced,” Grossman says. “It definitely seems like Apple intends to be a threat here. They’re trying to, at least for iOS users, inhibit them from using Google. They are trying to cut them off at the pass and take that search traffic for themselves.”

Apple’s ambush

Here’s how Apple intends to take some of that search traffic. First Apple swapped Google for Microsoft’s Bing last year to power searches within Siri and Spotlight, the on-device search function within iOS and OS X. Then, during this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Apple announced that its search functions, as Grossman describes it, are becoming “more rich and more functional.”

Though the exact details of how this will all function remain to be seen pending iOS 9’s release, it appears that when a user searches for a phrase in Safari using the forthcoming iOS 9, Spotlight (which previously had limited web search capabilities) will chime in with some search suggestions. If the user chooses a Spotlight-powered suggestion (i.e., one that shows up in the dropdown menu) before hitting enter to execute a Google-powered search (which is still the default for Safari, though this could change), they’ll reach their destination without ever interacting with Google. It’s what Grossman calls “cutting in line.”

What’s more, included within those Spotlight-powered search suggestions will be deep app content—in other words, content that exists within apps. LOOKING FOR A JOB listing? You could be directed to’s app or the LinkedIn JOB SEARCH app, prompting you to either download the app or open it if it’s already on your system.

“This is very huge. For Apple, apps are a huge ecosystem,” Grossman says. “This is where they make a ton of money.”

While Google has also begun surfacing deep app content on mobile devices though Android and the main web search engine, its offering is currently more limited. Google is only indexing deep app content with web parity, meaning content that exists on a website as well. Apple will be able to surface content that only exists in apps. For app developers, this is no small distinction, with their content suddenly discoverable in much more accessible way.

This all amounts to Apple potentially undercutting major swaths of Google’s traffic, thanks to IMPROVED SPEED and convenience—and bringing users further into an Apple-controlled mobile ecosystem.

Written by Natalie Burg

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