In my humble opinion, Apple is definitely building a search engine. Much has been written about the updates to Applebot’s support page, but what I found most interesting was this job posting
Specifically, the use of the words Semantic Search and Knowledge Graph. Historically, SIRI search has more or less been a federated search engine that pulls results from other “search engines” including Yelp, Apple Maps, App Store, Wikipedia, and Google. Perhaps I’m reading too much into the job posting, but, my take is that Apple is building it’s own search index and Knowledge Graph.
Why wouldn’t Apple build it’s own search engine? Well, for starters, Google pays a TON of money to Apple to be the default search engine on iOS. But, over the past several years Apple’s services revenue and “other” revenues have significantly increased, thus making the money paid by Google, dare I say, expendable. Speaking of services…
The other interesting thing to think about is the upside for Apple. Apple wouldn’t be trying to build a search engine that competes with Google, in the sense that, Apple is not trying to sell ads. Apple makes money by selling iPhones, iPads, accessories, Macs, and services, which now include Apple Music, TV, and News. So, why does that matter? Apple doesn’t need to or want to sell your data to advertisers, which is why Apple is able to take such a strong position on data privacy. In theory, Apple’s search engine would be customized and personalized based on your search history, location history, news articles, podcasts, music, contacts, health, documents, emails, etc. and that information would ONLY be known to you and your devices – never sold to advertisers. In effect, an Apple (SIRI) search engine could make the ecosystem that much more powerful.
It’s like living in the future.