Today marks the big day of Apple's Special Event, the popular tech conference held at Apple Park announcing the newest product and software releases from the tech juggernaut. For years, the annual presentation focused on the latest and greatest hardware releases announced by their fearless leader, Steve Jobs. First popularized by the iPod, the famous music playing device that could fit in your pocket, the event went on to release the iPhone, Apple Watch, the latest Mac, and more. But, as other tech giants have followed suit with similar annual release events of their latest and comparable hardware, an interesting trend has emerged. With rising phone costs north of $1,000 and similar products available with other providers like Microsoft and Google, Apple has started to shift its attention away from hardware and moved towards software. Lately, the tech giant has rolled out Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade, for example. Neither of which require an Apple device to be used, but can be scaled widely for users. While it may or may not be announced at today's event, there are interesting theories emerging about the possibility of Apple releasing its own search engine to compete with Google, which would be a major shift in the world of e-commerce and online search behavior. Not to mention, it would introduce a welcome change to the multifamily digital marketing landscape, which currently seems to be limited to Google, Facebook, and Apartments.com.
It's no question that Google dominates today's online user experience with its powerful search engine and YouTube. It's estimated that Bing and Yahoo, Google's "competition," account for less than 5% of mobile searches in the US today. To help maintain its 95% market share of online search, Google pays Apple billions of dollars each year to be the preferred search engine on Apple devices. That all may be in the works of coming to an end in the near future. With rising anti-trust pressure stemming from the EU, UK, and US, the tech leaders of California have been under constant fire over the past 5+ years regarding privacy concerns and anti-competitive behavior. An announcement of its own search engine (or purchase of one), would enable Apple to have its own search engine on all Apple devices (approx. 189 million in the US alone) and would bring a welcome competitor to the search space.
Why would the move be smart for Apple? For one- scale. Apple has emerged as the premier hardware company in the tech space, but the room for innovation at this exact moment has gotten smaller and smaller over recent years. Hardware announcements at Apple's annual event aren't as groundbreaking as they once were to the common user compared to when the iPod and iPhone were first announced. Going a step further, Apple is starting to price themselves out of the market with their new phones costing over $1,000 each. It's obvious they're aware of this too with the introduction of their cheaper phone options. By introducing their own search engine, Apple would gain a ton of insight into consumer behavior of its Apple (and perhaps non-Apple users) and would do so immediately- no requirement of users to go buy the latest phone or Mac. Second, this would create a whole new market and revenue stream. It is estimated that Google made over $134 billion in ad revenue in 2019. While Tim Cook has led Apple extremely well as Steve Jobs's successor, this shift could take his legacy a step further by introducing a highly profitable, new revenue stream. If the speculation is true, an Apple search engine would help anti-trust conversations greatly all over the world and bring in a welcome, formidable player to the online search game.