Apple Inc. sits on a few hundred billion dollars in profits spawned from the iPhone era. What will Apple do with all that money? Unfortunately, too much of it goes to 1) shareholders, and, 2) stock buybacks. What else could Apple do?
There is no shortage of options here. Apple could buy Disney, Netflix, Adobe, or heavily invest in chip and display manufacturing to avoid reliance on Samsung and Intel. Yes, Apple could buy Tesla or design and build its oxygen powered autonomous vehicle, but let’s get real. Apple should buy a search engine.
Build? Or, Buy?
First, why a search engine? After all, the search industry remains mostly owned by Google, followed up on Microsoft’s lame Bing, and then a diminishing cadre of niche search engines like Wikipedia, ASK.com, and others. Why does Apple need a search engine?
Needs are different than wants. The end goal here is to provide Apple’s customers with more privacy and security options than Android device or Windows PC customers get with Google and Microsoft at their helms. Apple gets a few billion dollars in clear and instant profits from Google to keep the search engine giant as the default on a billion Safari browsers, so it’s easy to see why Apple would balk at buying its own search engine.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. If so, Apple’s customers want and need more privacy and security options. We also don’t want to be tracked by Google, Facebook, Amazon, and others who give us little in exchange for vast quantities of private information about us and our online habits. An Apple-based search engine tied to a virtual private network (VPN) tied to an iCloud account sufficiently robust as to backup and save anything and everything we own from Mac, iPhone, and iPad, would be a few steps beyond wants and closer to the needs column.
Sure, Apple could build a Google competitor, but some exist already so why not buy; and the angle is not so much search engine results– Google is the main choice of many evils– as it is that sweet spot between results and privacy. I have grown tired of Google following my every online move.
Would Google like having Apple as a competitor?
I’m sure Google’s executives didn’t call Steve Jobs and say, “Hey, we’re going to steal iPhone’s operating system design. Is that OK?” And, then Google’s executives didn’t call up Apple executives and say, “Hey, we’re going to build an iPhone competitor. Is that OK?”
Of course it wasn’t OK but Google did it anyway because the company’s executives are greedy and because shareholder value comes in many deceptive forms. Likewise, Apple could out-Google Google with a built-in search engine– tweaked for results the way Apple does what Apple does– and make the focus about privacy and security– not more ad revenue.
Google could use some competition and Apple has a billion customers who might wake up one day and find that Apple is the default search engine on Safari.
How cool would that be?