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Apple launches “silent battle” against Google in three major battlegrounds

Apple is reportedly taking steps to further distance itself from Google by enhancing the maps, search and advertising features of its iOS operating system.

Google and Apple, the two Silicon Valley giants, have been enemies in the smartphone market since the launch of the Android operating system earlier this century.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once said that Android was a “stolen product” that imitated Apple’s iOS system. In response, Apple launched a “thermonuclear war” against Google and ousted then-Google CEO Eric Schmidt from Apple’s board in 2009.

Since then, the competition between Apple and Google has seemed less intense. But two former Apple engineers say Apple has always held a “grudge” against Google.

One of the people familiar with the matter said Apple is still engaged in a “silent battle” with its main rival Google. To that end, Apple is developing features that it hopes will further separate its products from services offered by Google (replacing Google products).

Maps
The first front in this battle is Maps. It began in 2012 when Apple released Maps as a pre-downloaded application to replace Google Maps.

That move was supposed to be a shining moment of proof of Apple’s software prowess, but it was so problematic it also forced Apple CEO Tim Cook to apologize to users.

But Apple Maps has come a long way in the last decade. Earlier this month, Apple also released Business Connect, a feature that allows businesses to manage the information displayed by Apple Maps, claim their digital locations, interact with users, display photos, and offer promotions, among other things.

Obviously, this is a direct challenge to Google Maps. Currently, Google Maps partners with the recommendation platform Yelp to provide similar information and generates revenue from advertising and referral fees. Business Connect goes a step further.

Cory Munchbach, CEO of customer data platform BlueConic, said of this, “Apple is in a very good position to increasingly decouple itself from Google, in large part under the guise of consumer privacy.”

Search
The second front in this battle is searched. Apple rarely discusses products that are still in development, but internal employees have revealed that it has long been working on a feature called “Apple Search,” a tool that enables “billions of searches” every day.

Josh Koenig, CEO of web operating platform Pantheon, said Apple could quickly gain a share of Google’s 92 percent search market share by not making Google the default search engine for its 1.2 billion iPhone users.

“If Apple can create something as good as Google, people will like it,” Koenig said. Alphabet pays Apple between $8 billion (currently about 54.24 billion yuan) and $12 billion (currently about 81.36 billion yuan) a year in exchange for Google being the default search engine on iOS, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Online Advertising
The third front is perhaps the most disruptive, namely Apple’s ambitions in the online advertising space. Currently, more than 80 percent of Alphabet’s revenue comes from online advertising.

Last summer, Apple posted a position on its jobs page for a senior manager of DSPs to “drive the design of the most privacy-conscious, sophisticated demand-side platform. Design products that deliver business growth and experiences that exceed customer expectations by innovating Apple’s most trusted and strategic programs.” The job posting states that the program will be geared toward advertising across Apple’s service platforms.

A DSP (demand-side platform) is a digital media buying tool that allows advertisers to buy ad inventory across multiple trading platforms. This means Apple may be building its own demand-side platform focused on serving ads on its own sites, such as the App Store.

The job ad suggests that Apple wants to build a novel ad network that will reinvent the way it delivers ads to iPhone users and exclude third-party data brokers.

The position was eventually filled by Keith Weisburg last September. Weisburg has worked at Google and YouTube for a decade and was also a senior product manager at Amazon DSP.

Insider Intelligence analyst Andrew Lipsman said that Apple’s moves on all three fronts make Alphabet’s position in iOS look “more vulnerable than ever.

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