In a major development in the tech world, Apple announced the release of Applebot, it’s new proprietary web crawler, on May the 5th. This means that Apple has thrown down the gauntlet to Google and Bing and become the newest entrant into the online search sector.
More on the Applebot web crawler
Okay, Applebot is not exactly brand new. Search researchers and webmasters starting noticing an “Applebot” gathering data on web pages back in November of last year.
To date, users of Apple devices could use Spotlight for desktop search, or the interactive digital assistant Siri to search their devices or for information across the web. Until now, it was assumed that Siri and Spotlight used the help a third party search engine to find that information on the web, perhaps Google or Bing.
Today this assumption is clearly no longer true. The new Applebot is providing information for both Siri and Spotlight searches, giving users new options for queries. Apple has not said exactly how long Applebot has been in a live environment, but it’s been officially documented as early as this past February and noted by others late last fall.
Applebot not a threat to Google…yet
Applebot isn’t really a threat to Google by itself. It’s just another way to gather data for already-existing search functions. In fact, most Apple users probably won’t notice any difference, given it will have the same interface as in the past, and it’s not like Apple is launching an alternative online search platform to compete with Google for users.
That said, Applebot could be just the first step in a long-term approach to online search. Since Apple is a major player in the world of mobile devices and operating systems, expansion into search seems a natural fit. The search sector currently remains dominated by Google, with over 70% of all searches undertaken by Google Search and Bing in second place at around 20%.
If Apple does eventually release a new, full-service search platform, it would certainly shake up the online world, SEO and ecommerce, but it’s not likely to happen anytime soon. Experts say it will take years for Apple to catch up with Google just in terms of functionality, never mind actually convincing users to switch over from tried and true Google Search.