The Information has published a new story today that explores Apple’s continued attempts to create “search capabilities that may directly compete with Google’s.”
As part of these efforts, Apple acquired in 2018 an artificial intelligence news business known as Laserlike. This company was formed by a group of developers working for Google. However, according to a story published today, the creators of Laserlike have rejoined Google. Srinivasan Venkatachary, a co-founder of Laserlike, had accepted the position of senior director for Apple’s search team, where he assisted in overseeing at least 200 workers. This team is in charge of creating features for tools like Siri Suggestions and Spotlight, as well as responses from the Siri voice assistant itself. Venkatachary and the other co-founders of Laserlike have since returned to Google.
However, as today’s research makes clear, Apple and Google are rivals and allies in the search sector. Most significantly, Google pays Apple between $18-$20 billion annually to continue being the default search engine for all Apple products. However, there is increasing antitrust attention being placed on this transaction. Apple may or may not create a dedicated Google search alternative, but according to a report published today, Apple is “at least four years away” from being able to do so:
Apple is still at least four years away from launching a potential Google search replacement, estimated the person who has been involved with the team. Doing so would undoubtedly require a significant increase in the team’s budget. Apple might also be able to strike a deal with Microsoft’s Bing that’s similar to the one Apple has with Google, as Bing has a relatively small share of the search market.”
The technology created by Venkachatary’s old team is being expanded by Apple to “power search for Apple Music and the App Store” in the meantime. The technique may be used to “generate data for Apple teams developing applications using natural language processing, such as those involving translation.”
Source: The Information