Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Smart Phones

Besides Bing, Apple also took a look at replacing Google with DuckDuckGo in Safari

Behind the scenes, Apple has shown interest in Microsoft’s Bing and DuckDuckGo

If that were to happen, both Apple and Google could be hurt. Apple would lose the $8 billion it receives from Google each year, and Google would miss the $25 billion in advertising revenue that its iOS search engine is said to bring in.
As it turns out, behind the scenes Apple has been working on making a deal for a potential replacement for Google’s search engine. In 2020, Apple and Microsoft reportedly had exploratory talks about Apple acquiring Bing from the software giant. The deal never made it to advanced stages as a report noted that Apple was never convinced that Bing could compete with the quality and capabilities of  Google Search.
In May 2021, Apple studied Bing’s search results compared with Google and discovered that Google delivered better search results than Bing in all categories except for English language search information on desktop; in that category, Google and Bing were tied.
Bloomberg reports that besides the secret exploratory talks it held with Microsoft about buying Bing, Apple also spoke with DuckDuckGo about replacing Google Search with that search engine. And the focus on privacy that DuckDuckGo is known for fits perfectly with Apple’s focus on privacy for the iPhone. The talks between Apple and DuckDuckGo were revealed during the DOJ via Google antitrust trial on Wednesday after Judge Mehta unsealed transcripts.

The judge had announced on Wednesday that he would order testimony from DuckDuckGo Chief Executive Officer Gabriel Weinberg and Apple executive John Giannandre to be unsealed. The pair previously testified in closed sessions. Judge Mehta ruled Wednesday that Weinberg and Giannandrea’s testimony “goes to the heart of the case.”

According to Weinberg, DuckDuckGo and Apple had 20 meetings and phone conversations that included the head of Safari. The idea was to replace Google with DuckDuckGo as the default search engine for the Safari browser’s private browsing mode. In this mode, Safari doesn’t keep track of the websites that a person visits.

Apple executive claims that Duck Duck Go’s privacy-first reputation is a marketing ploy

Weinberg did say that Apple integrated some of DuckDuckGo’s other privacy features into Safari but always came up short when it came to search. The executive says, “We were talking about it, I thought they would launch it. Multiple times we’ve gotten integrations all the way through the finish line. Really, almost everything we’ve pitched except for search.”

Apple’s Giannandrea, who became Apple’s head of search in 2018, said that as far as he remembers, Apple never seriously considered switching from Google to DuckDuckGo. In a February 2019 email to other executives, Giannandrea wrote that it was “probably a bad idea” to replace Google with DuckDuckGo as the default search engine for Safari’s private browsing.

The Apple executive said that DuckDuckGo probably isn’t into privacy as much as its marketing would have everyone believe. Since DuckDuckGo relies on Bing for its search information, Giannandrea says that the search engine firm’s “marketing about privacy is somewhat incongruent with the details.” The executive added that if Apple is serious about switching to the privacy-oriented search engine, “I would probably insist on doing a lot more due diligence with DuckDuckGo.”


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