Apple building a search engine frontend?

According to TechCrunch and their multiple sources, Apple is building a search engine to take on Google and Yahoo.  While it seems far fetched at first. (little expertise, no advertising model, etc.) Tech Crunch does raise a good point that Apple may be trying to enhance the experience for their users and could just be putting some Apple window dressing on another serch engine’s backend.

But one important fact that isn’t checking out – if Apple were building a search engine, they’d be hiring search experts and engineers. We’ve talked to a ton of them at all the big companies, and while some of them heard the same rumors, none have lost search employees to Apple, or heard of any specific hirings.

That alone almost certainly rules out a full on search competitor. You can’t do it without people who know what they’re doing.

Apple also loves the fees they receive regularly from Google for search marketing dollars earned from Safari. They obviously aren’t in the advertising business today, so even if they did launch a search engine they’d still heavily rely on Google or its competitors for the advertising piece. So why invest all that capital into search?

The answer is they’re not. But the rumors persist, and we believe they have a nugget of truth. Here’s what we think is really going on: Apple doesn’t like the search experience on its mobile devices, and may be building a radically different user experience which is much more visual than exists today. It will likely still be powered by Google results, but Apple may present it in a very different way that suits mobile users much better.

Stay tuned for more. There are pieces of this we are still putting together.

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