Apple will no longer use Google Maps as the back end of its map functionality in iOS 6 when it hits the public in October. Months before this announcement, Apple introduced the beta version of Siri which is a voice activated personal assistant of sorts for the iPhone 4s (or maybe John Malkovich’s extremely creepy best friend). While not an integrated offering with these two services, can one think that Apple will be a search engine to some degree?
Why not? After all, maps are about search and discovery. With Google Maps out of the picture and the new Apple version of maps coming online (which has been developed by three companies Apple purchased in this area) this could take a serious bite out of Google’s 95% share of the mobile search market. Big happenings for sure.
Siri is definitely a form of search. It’s a request and answer mechanism that can do tasks outside of search (texts, emails, etc.) but when a user asks it for the closest Italian restaurant it is, in essence, a search engine. It is presenting what its backend calculations have decided are the best possible answers for the question asked by the iPhone user. Sounds exactly like Google’s function as a search engine, doesn’t it? Different delivery of a result set but it’s search.
So why does this matter and to whom might it matter the most? Google, that’s who, and maybe not for the reasons one might think. Is it possible that the folks in Mountain View may have to feign being upset by these developments rather than having real fear of losing something? Could this change in the competitive landscape actually ease the talk of a monopoly? Could Google now claim that there is, in essence, an even bigger potential competitor for search supremacy in the corporate powerhouse that is Apple? Why not?
What if this actually could turn the regulation tables a bit? How you ask? Well, we have to wonder if Apple will now allow a Google Maps standalone app into the AppStore. Will Apple’s app policies keep such a competitor out of the Apple ecosystem thus allowing Google to dare cry foul if they felt the need? Could Google say that because of the breadth and depth of Apple’s dominance that it is the same pseudo public utility that many want to paint Google as being? Wouldn’t that be a changing of the guard!
There are a lot of questions that arise from the announcements from Apple and time will be an important determinant factor as to what impact these changes have on the overall landscape in search that, up to now, has been dominated by Google.
Could it be that Google is doing a silent clap for these latest developments that many want to paint as a blow to the search giant’s position in the online world? With less pressure of the threat of government regulation both in the US and in the EU, could that actually open up the innovation flood gates because now everything Google does is in response to real free market competitive conditions?
I suspect there is some celebrating going on in the Google camp as a result of these announcements. Now at least Google can point to someone who not only has enough money to compete with them but the proven smarts to do just about anything they have wanted in the recent past. A true competitive threat, right.
I sure hope so because it’s a real competitive threat that will ultimately benefit us little folks; the end users. Wouldn’t that be cool?
How do you view Apple’s moves? Does this now make them a search player without calling themselves one? If yes, will their market share in the mobile space (which is, even by this Android user’s standards, a result of a product that is likely the better of the two choices) now be seen as something that could be mislabeled by many as a monopolistic play? If no, then what is Apple? Just a hardware provider? Hardly.
Let’s hear your comments. I am sure each side of this fence has some rather intense arguments. Have at it.