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Apple Explores Replacing Google with DuckDuckGo in Safari, Following Bing’s Example

Apple has reportedly been exploring alternatives to Google’s search engine, including Microsoft’s Bing and privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo. If Apple were to replace Google with one of these options, both Apple and Google could face financial consequences. Apple currently receives $8 billion from Google each year, while Google’s iOS search engine is said to bring in $25 billion in advertising revenue.

In 2020, Apple and Microsoft engaged in preliminary talks about Apple acquiring Bing. However, the deal didn’t progress further because Apple wasn’t convinced that Bing could match the quality and capabilities of Google Search. More recently, Apple also had discussions with DuckDuckGo about replacing Google Search, especially given the alignment between DuckDuckGo’s privacy focus and Apple’s commitment to privacy for the iPhone. These discussions were revealed during the recent Google antitrust trial, after sealed transcripts were unsealed by Judge Mehta.

DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg testified that Apple and DuckDuckGo had around 20 meetings and phone conversations, involving the head of Safari. The goal was to make DuckDuckGo the default search engine for Safari’s private browsing mode, which doesn’t track visited websites. While Apple integrated some of DuckDuckGo’s privacy features into Safari, they didn’t reach an agreement regarding search. Weinberg expressed his anticipation for Apple launching DuckDuckGo, considering that they had successfully partnered on other integrations.

However, Apple’s head of search, John Giannandrea, stated that Apple never seriously considered switching from Google to DuckDuckGo. In a 2019 email, Giannandrea expressed doubts about replacing Google with DuckDuckGo as Safari’s default search engine for private browsing. He also questioned DuckDuckGo’s commitment to privacy, noting that the search engine relies on Bing for its search information. Giannandrea implied that DuckDuckGo’s marketing might not entirely align with the actual privacy measures they implement. If Apple were to consider DuckDuckGo as a search engine option, Giannandrea suggested conducting more extensive due diligence.

While Apple’s exploration of alternatives to Google Search continues, it remains to be seen if any changes will be implemented in the future.

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