We did not enter the search business. They [Google] entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them. - Steve Jobs, 2010
There were a few themes that were clear in Monday's keynote from Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). For instance, Apple laid the groundwork for iWatch being a health and fitness monitoring device, Apple is very focused on continuing to develop an integrated ecosystem where devices work well together, and Apple is committed to making both iOS and OS X developer-friendly and state-of-the-art.
Those are all important concepts, but there was another that was even more interesting: Apple is gunning for Google's bread and butter, search. I don't mean a search engine, per se, though such a product is still in the cards. What Apple showed us on Monday is that it intends to make our most common searches something we do without going directly to
a search engine Google.
I haven't seen anyone else talking about this, so allow me to lay out my case, starting with Spotlight's expanded branding and abilities.
Apple is branding Spotlight across both iOS and OS X these days. In Mavericks (and earlier versions of OS X), you could use Spotlight to launch applications and search for documents on your Mac. The intrepid could use it to search Mail, search images (by name), or launch a Google search in your browser.
In iOS 7, you can "Search iPhone" to find local apps, find contacts, search for music, search Mail, launch a search in your browser, or search Wikipedia.
On Monday, we were shown how Spotlight could be used to search for apps on the App Store—apps you haven't yet purchased, that is. You can also use it to search for movies, both in iTunes and in the theater, points of interest, news, songs, both those you own and songs on iTunes, directions, and restaurants.
This is a significant expansion of "Spotlight," and the fact that it's being branded across OS X, iOS, and Safari is just as significant.
Note the "Spotlight Search" as opposed to "Search iPhone"
When Brian Croll came on stage to show us Safari in OS X Yosemite, one of the first things he showed us was how clicking in the "search field," which used to be the URL field, brings up your favorites. Again, note the expansion of Spotlight to Safari, and note the emphasis of "search" in the main Safari interface.
The message being delivered to users is that you search in Safari, not some remote search engine.
Also, many people go to the website of their choice by searching for it in Google. They do this every single time, no matter how many times they've gone to a particular site. For folks like that, you use the Internet by going to Google and searching for a company or other site, period.
This may even be more common than what geeks like me do, which is to go directly to the URL when we know what is.
Apple has always offered a Favorites Bar in Safari, but this new feature in Yosemite an iOS 8 does double duty as both a favorites bar and an in-your-face visual for those who normally search for "apple" instead of just going directly to apple.com.
Favorites are in-your-face, no Google needed
That will reduce Google's traffic. Maybe not by a whole lot, but I think Apple's goal here is death-by-a-thousand cuts, rather than a knockout blow Apple could never deliver in the first place.
Next: The Power of Suggestion