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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Is Apple Creating a Search Engine For the iPad and iPhone?

By Robert Levin

In addition to the iAd ad platform that is rumored to be released, there are a few other things that point to an Apple search engine coming in the future. Walt Mossberg of Piper Jaffray has made some salient points about Apple's desire to not 'give the farm away' as far as data to Google goes among other things.

As long as Google is used for search on Apple mobile devices, it will have open access to see how iPhone and iPad users are using the devices. They can then use this information to better compete with Apple with their own Android phone devices and upcoming Android tablets.

In addition, the mobile ad market is still in its infancy. This is a market that Apple probably does not want to cede to Google as there are significant profits to be made there in the coming years.

So strategically, it makes sense for Apple to create their own search for mobile platform. It is the only logical way that Apple will be able to compete with Google in the mobile sphere long term. But what would an Apple search engine look like? What would it be called? I've done some research into recent Apple patents and have come across what I think points us in the direction that Apple is going.

In 2007, Apple applied for a patent on the name iGuide. There are at least 3 separate patents that I can tell for that name issued to a dummy corporation called iGuide Media. IGuide Media was outed as a dummy Apple corporation several months ago on some of the other Apple news sites such as Macrumors. If you read the description of the patents carefully they seem to be descriBing a form of categorization and/or search function that would do what in essence is combine functionality similar to the 'Genius' function on iTunes with search. This would enable the entire internet to be parsed and sectioned into video, music, images and text and have the user find 'similar' types of media.

The key difference it seems between the iGuide and a normal search engine would be the ability to search not only via text keywords as is standard today with Google, Bing, yahoo, etc, but to search or compare directly in other formats as well. Imagine being able to click on a song for instance that you like and tell iGuide to search for similar types of songs that you might like? Or imagine clicking on a video game that you like and having the iGuide search the net for other games of similar type that you would like? The same could be done for images and any other kind of media.

Results would then be shown not simply as lists of text as they are on search engines today, but as iTunes like categories that fit with the kind of media searched for. In a nutshell, it's 'Genius' for the entire mobile internet. Of course, Apple might be taking search into an entirely different direction altogether but I believe this 'Genius' approach is the most likely and that the 'iGuide' will break new ground in mobile search.

Make sure to visit for all the latest on Apple mobile news.


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