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Apple makes billions from Google Search each year (businessinsider.com)
101 points by onetimemanytime 40 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 103 comments

To put that back into relatable numbers, there are about 1B installed iOS devices. So Google is paying $9/year for each device to be the default search engine.

It was 1B in 2016, the most recent number is 1.4B active devices[0]. So that would make it $6.71.

[0] https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/29/18202736/apple-devices-io...

Interesting, it's also important to keep in mind that (1) this number is slightly higher per user because some people have multiple iOS devices and (2) given the device price points, iOS users are typically considered more valuable than the average person.

Are those all capable to run the latest version / receive updates? Otherwise, they're paying even more per device.

Are those all capable to run the latest version / receive updates? Otherwise, they're paying even more per device.

You can still use the web browser all the way back to the original iPhone. Updates are irrelevant.

Source: Googled using Safari on my launch day iPhone just a few days ago.

Updates are relevant, if we're talking about possibly changing the default search engine.

It's currently Google...and if they want to change it, they'd have to update these EOL devices. This could significantly increase the price per device

The default browser doesn't change with updates. This is about new devices shipped.

That has been true so far with Apple, but if they are unhappy with Google, they could retroactively switch users to DDG

does the $9.4B figure include mac devices?

And I can make those nine dollars go straight into the trash by changing the search engine to DDG in the settings.

My question is, would Apple default to different search engine if they weren't getting paid? Given Google's utter dominance in search, it would likely be seen as anti-user behavior to default to something else.

This one and the fact that Microsoft takes all the licensing revenue from Android seem to bubble up every few months. Head-scratching stuff from companies playing on levels of scale where strange things start to make sense.

If they weren't getting paid they'd just switch to Bing or DuckDuckGo. As much as Google might like to believe that people will specifically seek them out because they are a better product, search is a utility and most people will be fine with Bing/DuckDuckGo. We know this exactly because Google pays TAC.

I agree in general but if 1.4 billion devices simultaneously started using duckduckgo their servers would melt through the mantle and merge with the inner core.

If done in a heartbeat. But they'd probably even get funds from Apple to scale.

So from +$9B to what? -$100M?

Apple would definitely go to Microsoft to get payment for pushing traffic to their MSN network instead.

Apple had previously used Bing as the default search in certain areas, such as Siri and the Search bar.

But did they switch because they could get more money from Google, because they could give users better search results with Google, or because they didn't want to confuse users who google things and get confused that the google is broken and says bing instead?

Money. Google offered the same or better experience when bing was the default.

If they could not receive any kind of payment or kickback from any company I would give it a 70% chance they pick Google. As it stands, Apple knows that it can charge Google and Google knows its worth paying so they stay in the mutually beneficial relationship.

I think Apple has the power to establish a competitor - After all most searches are simple and DuckDuckGo well satisfies those. I stil seek out Google every once in a while, but how many users will go through the trouble to change the default, especially when you have !g?.

My next question is even if they do lose on search, with all their very successful "side" businesses, how much would it impact them at this point?

> My next question is even if they do lose on search, with all their very successful "side" businesses, how much would it impact them at this point?

Are you talking about Apple or Google?

If Apple launches a search engine that fails it'll have huge brand image implications. Their brand is their most valuable asset.

If Google Search were to fail then Google would lose the majority of their revenue. Sure, they could continue, but they probably would not be considered part of the Big Four anymore.

Apple already has a search engine.

You will see Siri Suggested websites coming up before Google’s results.

Google is actually pretty well optimized for the simplest, most mindless searches. It sucks for anything complex, though - Bing/DDG is a lot better there.

I think mindless and complex might not be the right words to use here.

I find google searching to be similar to writing. If I distill the question down to the crucial elements and use clear english, I get great results. If I throw all the elements of my question in and hope for the best, I usually am disappointed.

Google's market share is slightly more than 3/4 of all search [0]. They have a strong majority of all searches, and they dominant some submarkets of search, but they are far from total market dominance.


I feel like 3/4 is pretty much dominance. If Ford sold 3/4 of all cars purchased in America, I think you'd say they were dominating the automobile market.

It's a good position, but it's far from a monopoly most people treat it as.

Google's market share is somewhere between 88% and 98% almost everywhere outside of China and Russia. These are pretty significant "submarkets".


But I think what these statistics do not reflect is the growing share of Amazon in product search.

That is about 7% of google’s 2018 revenue! It is 30% of google’s net operating income!!

I looked it up: "Cost of revenues was $59.5 billion, consisting of [traffic acquisition cost] TAC of $26.7 billion and other cost of revenues of $32.8 billion. Our TAC as a percentage of advertising revenues was 23%." So yeah, you have to spend money to make money. https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1652044/000165204419...

Apple is sure concerned about privacy of their users until the Google dump truck full of cash arrives. Apple isn't the one tracking you everywhere but they're happy to sell access (to you) to someone who does!

Wait a minute. Google is the market leader in search. Apple offers/highlights DDG, Bing and other engines, but many folks want Google.

Clearly people want Google, Facebook and Amazon despite the potential for harm. But Apple champions your privacy, and these companies do not. Hence, the ethical conundrum.

We should remember this, the next time Cook or anyone from Apple makes public statements about privacy. I would very much like to hear a journalist ask these tough questions (my apologies of someone already has).

Apple is essentially handing these customers to Google and they know it - otherwise they wouldn't be able to ask for so much money in return.

Agree, most users (excluding developers/power users), still default to Google. The default search engine can also quickly be changed if you wish.

> The default search engine can also quickly be changed if you wish

Then why is it worth $9.4 billion?

It can be changed to another search engine without even opening Safari.

Most people will never change their default search. This is why Google's dominance mostly started with pushing Google Toolbar installs which changed your default in IE for you, and later, of course, with it's push into Chrome and Android and paying Apple to be default there.

If Chrome switched it's default search to DDG (no, this is not a plausible scenario), most people would be using DDG for search in a week.

The point is they are selling out your privacy for money. A lot of it.

Does the same standard not apply to companies like Mozilla?


You can change your settings easily. No need for such dramatic statements.

You can but a huge percentage won't or know how or won't bother assuming it is privacy safe because apple added it.

There is nothing wrong with google but at least go through ddg with a hashbang.

The concept of owning demand is explored really well in this blog post[1]. A good excerpt:

> In short, if somebody successfully inserts themselves between you and your customer, they can exercise tremendous control over you, including taking a big chunk of your profits or outright killing you.

[1] https://florentcrivello.com/index.php/2018/10/22/own-the-dem...

I would love to know how google determines the value of being the default search engine... estimating it is required to agree to the fee structure.

interesting, that is the price to stop apple create its own search engine.

interesting, that is the price to stop apple create its own search engine.

Launching, perhaps. Creating? No one knows.

Maybe one day when Google decides it doesn't need Apple anymore, Tim Cook will pull a "One more thing..." at WWDC.

There's absolute no way they can do, the search engine is very very expensive to operate, to be successful you have to be better than Google and that require none existing technologies (such quantum storage).

edit: Google is not doing the best at searching, they are doing the best by budget current economy allows, to be better than Google you have to cut cost of operation in very dramatic way, so you can expand the beyond where Google stands now, other than that, you can't outperform Google.

I, for one, welcome our quantum word salad overlords.

Don't be rude to non-skilled English speakers. The comment is wrong but not because of its poor English.

I suppose that depends on how you finance it. For Apple, it could be a feature of their ecosystem; for Google, the search engine is just there to lure you in so they can show you ads. That would be a totally different story: does Google actually have incentive to provide you with the best organic results next to which the ads would look out of place and bad?

I don't think it would be a good business decision for Apple though, and there's no guarantee that they could even get there with throwing billions of dollars at it.

>>There's absolute no way they can do, the search engine is very very expensive to operate, to be successful you have to be better than Google and that require none existing technologies (such quantum storage).

There's absolute no way they can do, Maps is very very expensive to operate, to be successful you have to be better than Google and that require none existing technologies (such quantum storage).

To get serious for a second, here's an amazing article on how far Google Maps is ahead: https://www.justinobeirne.com/google-maps-moat/

It is very hard to catch up with them.

OK, but the term "good enough" exists for a reason. How many users did Apple lose by not using G Maps?

So, Apple would need a "good enough" search engine and they'd buy DDG over a cup of coffee. Invest in improving it. And, yes, they're for sale, just as Microsoft or Exxon is (for the right amount of money)

Yet people use Apple Maps because they like the UX and it fulfills 90% of their mapping needs.

And also because every iPhone has it pre-installed. The game would be different if it was an optional download

> to be successful you have to be better than Google and that require none existing technologies (such quantum storage).

Sorry, what? Can you clarify?

yep, some mad scientists are trying to create storage device with huge space, trying with biological and quantum means, the promise is to store all of internet information in a single device

if that happen, it would be possible to INDEX all of internet at very low cost and being competitive with Google. just think about how much it cost Google or BING to index 1 billion static pages.

In Apple's reporting where they don't have the breakdown in iPhone sales any more there is talk of revenue from other services going up. Maybe this is part of that success story.

Meanwhile DuckDuckGo (probably valued at under $50 million) is worth less than 1% of that fee. No wonder Google continues to retain a monopolistic market share.

DuckDuckGo is basically a reskin of Bing search (unless you search in Russian, then it's Yandex). Their value-add is minimal, even if you trust them to respect privacy, despite not being open-sourced or audited.

DDG isn't a search engine in the same way Bing and Google are.

That seems like a really low estimate but I have no clue what DDG is currently valued at. They raised $10 million recently but after a little search I wasn't able to see at what valuation they raised the money at.

Me neither. I just guessed that it was a 20-30% stake, hence under $50m.

Well, Google isn't the one putting it up for sale.

Apple could easily add a user choice prompt, where users can pick from the top 3 search engines in a country.

But I guess they like that $10B very much.

Apple could easily add a user choice prompt, where users can pick from the top 3 search engines in a country

Settings > Safari > Search Engine

That's not what I meant.

If Apple didn't want to push a search engine and take financial advantage of it, it could show a prompt the first time the user opens the browser, asking the user to select the search engine from a list.

But I guess Apple just loves that nice shiny pile of cash too much to give it up!

But I guess Apple just loves that nice shiny pile of cash too much to give it up!

Or perhaps a company that is focused on the user experience decided not to make 98% of its users change the setting.

Yeah, and charged $10B for it.


Sure, this changes Safari's default search engine. Siri will still return Google results.

Ask Siri "Do a web search for {search query}" and you'll see google'logo at the bottom of the list.

They must negotiate very well because as an iOS user I would be disappointed to not have Google as default (like when Firefox switched to Bing).

It would be hard to imagine actually be disappointed that my preferred service is an option, but not the default. I use few of the defaults on my phone.

I thought Firefox switched to Yahoo

Yahoo is just Bing wearing different clothes.

Quite a cost to pay for a generation of people that don't know how to set a default search engine.

This is the biggest benefit of Apple users.

I'd like to see a citation that Apple users are more likely to not change settings than average users.

Most people don't enjoy configuring systems and leave most of the defaults most of the time.

The most obvious and not controversial- Home screen on the iphone vs a home screen on Android.

Interesting. That’s like more than the entire yearly revenue of Bing.


The users get to use a pretty good search engine.


I'm struggling to see a significant difference. What are you seeing?

The first 3 results are the same, then Google tends to be glowing endorsements for Kamala with absolutely nothing critical.


"2020 candidate Kamala Harris says her top priority is raising incomes"

"Kamala Harris: young, black, female – and the Democrats' best bet"

"2020 candidate Kamala Harris wants to give working class families $500 a month"


"Kamala Harris says she smoked marijuana in college while listening to music that didn't exist yet"

"Extramarital affair with Kamala Harris?"

"Willie Brown on Kamala Harris: 'We dated,' I 'influenced her ..."

There's clear favoritism there.

Your comment made me check out DuckDuckGo for the first time in a long while.

To support your point, there's also a huge difference in the auto-fill suggestions, and I'd guess DuckDuckGo is more accurate to what users actually search.

How is it possible that this woman had an affair with the mayor of San Francisco, and the top auto-fill suggestions on Google are "parents," "sister," "mother," and "breakfast club," rather than "affair," "willie brown," and so forth (on DuckDuckGo)?

This perception of bias stems from a technical illiteracy of search autocomplete. Even your example is a removed autocomplete result because of sexual content [1].

Google recently re-explained how their autocomplete policy works [2] because partisan hacks were cherry-picking queries to accuse Google of bias [3], not unlike GP is doing here.

[1] https://www.blog.google/products/search/how-google-autocompl...

[2] https://blog.google/products/search/google-search-autocomple...

[3] https://medium.com/@rhea/hillary-clintons-search-results-man...

How is the decision actually made, does a person decide? I don't really see any real technical details there, I'm just supposed to trust Google.

Did you actually look? If you would read the citations you would see that details on how it is done by predictive algorithms.

What happens when a human being reports a prediction? Is that done purely by an algorithm? I still see nothing with real technical details in the three articles you linked to.

Yes, reading manual submissions is almost certainly algorithmically scanned, validated, and scaled.

If an outsider like yourself could see 'the technical details' then it would be too easy to game results, like you were already complaining about in another comment.

So we don't really get to know how it works as there's nothing but vague details. I've known from the beginning that it's mainly done through algorithms.

I'm sorry, I don't trust Google simply because they assure me they can be trusted. I don't have that level of faith in a religion, much less a corporation.

The Washington Examiner pot story is #4 on Google's "top stories" section in my search results. You see pro-Harris bias; I see you looking for more tabloid-y results.

The "tabloid-y results" are also the truth of how her career started, strangely missing from Google. I think the biggest bias here is people wanting to believe Google's search results can still be trusted.

#4 on the top stories hardly seems like "missing", and I can't say I fault the news algorithm for weighting a senator and presidential candidate's current policy proposals over a blurry memory of what song she listened to while smoking pot in college, or a relationship from twenty years ago.

This is exactly what I'm talking about. The "tabloid-y results" that are also the truth of how her career started are not her smoking pot in college. You don't even know what I'm referring to because Google's results don't mention it.

> You don't even know what I'm referring to because Google's results don't mention it.

I'm well aware of both stories you highlighted.

Both are far less important than the current policy proposals of a presidential contender, so I argue Google is correct not to highlight them as the top couple of stories about Harris if you search for her.

Sleeping with a married superior to get a better job really brings someone's character into question, but maybe the bar for corruption in US politics is set so high people don't care anymore.

With Google you get her policy proposals, with DDG you get that too and the actual dirt on the politician. I like to have all the information.

Per https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/1/28/18200885/w..., Brown was separated "for more than a decade" from his wife at the time. I have a hard time seeing that as a major character flaw.

The assertion that she slept with him "to get a better job" is just that - an assertion.

> As Siders notes, suggesting that Brown had any influence over Harris’s professional ascent obscures the fact that he broadly exerted the same influence over numerous politicians in the region, given his wide-ranging position of power.

> “It is difficult to find any successful politician in San Francisco who does not have history with Brown,” writes Siders. “Before being elected mayor of San Francisco the same year Harris ran for district attorney, Newsom owed his start in San Francisco politics to an appointment by Brown to the city’s Parking and Traffic Commission, and later, to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.”

You're really only reinforcing my point - that Google's correctly selecting the more meaningful news stories here.

This information is all available on Google (hell, that's how I found it). It's just not the "top story", per Google's algorithmic judgement call.

There's nothing wrong with them having sex in itself, there's nothing wrong with him helping her get a job in itself. When those things are connected though there's a problem. And I doubt that's the case with Newsom, so it's a misleading comparison.

And wow, you found an article that whitewashes the whole thing. Proves Google's fair, right?

DuckDuckGo is Bing search results.

What you're doing is seeing artifacts of different search engine technology and chalking it up to favoritism because you want to perceive a bias.

DuckDuckGo is not Bing, though they have some worrying connections to Bing/Yahoo. Interesting note, Bing's results are much more similar to Google's, with no mention of what happened between Harris and Willie Brown.

There's a whole industry built around manipulating search results, what you see is not simply an "artifacts of different search engine technology". There's a very biased, politicized, human element to all of this. The moment you create an "objective" search algorithm, people are going to reverse-engineer it and exploit it. Then results can be rigged simply by selective enforcement of the rules.

DuckDuckGo is a search aggregation of Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex. Yahoo has been Bing search for over a decade, so unless you're searching in Russian, it's Bing search results.

I'm not sure if you even know who you're talking about, since you originally claimed the search engines were biased, but now you're accusing the SEO 'manipulators' of being the bad actors. Again, I think you're perceiving bias where you want it to exist, not where the evidence shows it existing.

Both Alphabet and marketers are biased, I have no idea why it would have to be one or the other.

A search engine fails to produce results about the biggest scandal of a politician's career, and I'm supposed to believe it's simply being objective and I'm the one being biased.

So you at least understand now how DDG is Bing?

Wikipedia lists her relationship as a footnote in her personal life, hardly the mountain you're making it out to be. Are you going to accuse Wikipedia of being biased too?

You're free to set your own burden of proof and believe whatever you want to, but that doesn't necessarily make it fact.

No, if anything I'm more convinced they're different because they produce significantly different results when searching for "Kamala Harris".

She slept with Willie Brown, who was already married, and then he helped her get a nice job. I guess if Wikipedia tells you it's not important, it's not important because Wikipedia is unbiased. Did read that on Wikipedia, does it tell you it's unbiased? I'm a writer for Wikipedia, by the way, and I'm biased. In fact every human being has biases.

For me the very first news story on google was about her smoking pot and listening to Tupac (as if I care) via fox news.. so it's not so clear to me.

I see exactly same top 5 results. Not sure what you mean

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