Apple / Google

How Apple crushed Google in the fall of 2015 from my book “The Future History of Technology


Steve Jobs was livid when he learned about Google plans to use the Android operating system which Google acquired to compete with the iPhone. He felt betrayed by Eric Schmidt, the then CEO of Google who also happened to be a member of the Apple Board. Schmidt joined the board of Apple in 2005 and left (or, was asked to leave) in 2009. Jobs began to realize that Google could  become the next Microsoft which would have the same effect that the old Microsoft had on the pre-iPhone Apple, it would cut the company off at the knees. Jobs realized that the only way to prevent that, was to put a dagger into the very heart of Google – Search.  So he started up the most secret project ever undertaken at Apple. The name of the project was “Found.”  Less than four people knew about Found and not one of them was a board member. Jobs understood that Search was a very vulnerable area that had no stickiness other than possibly the brand behind it. That when users did a search, they just wanted the best results. 

Yes, Google built up an amazing advertising business around Search. But advertisers would always go where the “audience” went. It was not important to Apple to monitize Search, what was important was for Apple to disable the Google money machine to defend its franchise.

It was fortunate that Jobs had heard of an amazing Israeli scientist who developed an algorithm for search that would have the same effect on Google as Google had on Alta Vista using Page Ranking. The key thing was to keep the project hidden. This way if it failed, it would not make Apple look bad but if it succeeded, it would smash Google.

On  his death bed, or close to it, he made Tim Cook, the current CEO,  promise to keep project Found going. By the summer of 2014, it was clear that the new search capability developed by  Apple would revolutionize search. Apple began to get ready for the launch. They wanted a way to make sure that millions of people could use the new search capability on the day of the launch. This required that a few more people be brought into the fold so that Found could be rolled out in releases IOS, OSX and iTunes. Of course, it was hard to keep such a project secret up to the announcement but Apple did it’s best. It provided a lot of cover. Many false stories were leaked with most focused on the use of Artificial Intelligence within Siri. While these stories were not far from the truth, they lacked a few key elements – all of which were finally revealed  publicly by Steve Jobs at a major event in Sept. 2015.  Yes, I said Steve Jobs.  This effort was so important to him that he pre-recorded the announcement before his death and instructed Tim Cook to use it.

Google was stunned as were its share holders. Google stock dropped by 30% the day of the announcement. The next morning many Apple users found that they had a new search capability and one that was far superior to Google. The word spread. Apple had even hired a company to release an Android version of it. The rest, as they say, is history.

Ok, this was all made up or was it?  You will have to wait for about 1 1/2 years to find out. In the mean time, one thing is now abundantly clear. Google failed at doing to Facebook what Apple did to Google in my story above. Google+ is a major failure as are many, if not most, of Google’s efforts to break out of their dependency on Search. They needed to stop Facebook. Facebook knows much more about their users than Google knows about those that use its search capability. Eventually, Facebook will introduce search and perhaps in collaboration with Apple.  To stop Facebook, Google attacked them front on by launching their own social network, Google Plus.  While Google Plus was superior in many ways, Google was not able to bust the Facebook franchise. Jobs may be dead, but Zuckerberg is not, and he definitely understands how vulnerable Google really is. He is using FB currency (the inflated value of the companies stock) to make some very smart acquisitions while most of the acquisitions that Google has made make little sense in my opinion. And these acquisitions are paid for mostly in cash which is real money. As I am writing this, Google is basically abandoning Google Plus. The next interesting battle between Google and Facebook will be in the area of voice and messaging.  Facebook has Whats App. Google has Hangouts and Google Voice. My bet is on Facebook.  Apple also has a problem in this area because their voice and message capability, FaceTime, is a closed Apple only system.

So there you have it.  Google is caught between Steve Jobs (deceased but not dead) and Mark Zuckerberg.

Now back to the future.

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59 thoughts on “How Apple crushed Google in the fall of 2015 from my book “The Future History of Technology

  1. Interesting! II am certainly not keeping up withe the search race. I switched from Yahoo to Google because you and everybody else that I respected said Google was better. I really did not notice much difference but ti was certainly did not appear worse. I still keep my Stock portfolio on Yahoo. I thought that yahoo stock systems was at least as good as googles and certainly not worth the time to reenter all the symbols and formats. Maybe Google’s financial system as past by Yahoo’s. The thing I like best about Google Add ons are Google Maps and Earth. I once believe that Google with all of its add ons would be the environment people would live in. And that it would be probable that people would tureen on their computer and bypass Microsoft DOS based products like Windows and Office but i no longer think that Google or anybody will have a nearly closed environment. Steve’s Ideas in 2012 may not be good enough for 2015 especially since Apple is run by a very dull man. Apple had better start coming up with new products that I will want to sped money on. Only “new” Product that i have purchased from apple is apple TV which is pretty marginal when compared to the “Smart” TVs which gave become almost standard on anything but a stripped down low rock bottom TV. The best thing about apple to me is their SUPPORT (phone and in-store) and the Apple environment where Computers, pads, Telephones, (even Apple TV ) work well together. I fprgoy yo mention that apple products look and feel better which is important to me. I remember talking to ben Rosen at a major Compaq launch. I asked him why compact and most other TV looked like junk. Ben said good question and he suggested that we over to this italian guy who came over from recently accrued Dec and ask him the question. After A brief discussion I told him that I knew this italian Guy and that while he looked the part of an Italian designer that he had all the grace of a Russian truck designer. I told him that he was san idiot and he should fire him. Ben said that after our brief discussion he thought that i was probably right but he said that if I fired everybody from DEC that was a jerk,than there would be nobody left and the jerks from DEC would Probably get along with the jerks from Compaq making for a smoth merger. ‘

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  2. This really is an interesting position to take and frankly it would be astonishing if this came to fruition. I doubt that Jobs would do this out of spite or malice but he would do this if he though this was the best way for Apple to move forward and grow. Apple has proven track record of both reactionary or rather evolutionary products and revolutionary products. iPod and iPhone are both evolutionary products, iPad is more of a revolutionary product. The same could be done with Found, it is or rather it could be like the iPod or the iPhone of the search world. Apple could clean it up, sterilize it and repackage it to make it better – just like they did with the iPod and the iPhone. One thing is for sure, Apple does not do random, they do things which are methodical, planned and well executed, and if Found is what their next project is, they just might be able to pull it off.

    Microsoft is confused for the most part as to what it wants to be as the new company, Google thinks that it’s search is so good – that gravy train will run forever so they can blow all their money on fun research like AI etc, FB was invited to play with the big boys, but for the most part still behaves like a college kid running around with it’s pants down thinking that is what impresses people, while Apple remains focused, organized if only mislead a bit by Cook – still of the four tech companies it has the best chance of pulling this off and I hope they do – we need something new and exciting. Let’s not forget that by 2015 Apple will most likely have almost a billion accounts with credit cards on them and we all know how great Apple is at persuading people to part with their cash. Found then could be a new search engine, one that liberates even more money from the willing masses, in a slick well polished Apple way.

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  3. There’s so much wrong with this story. Not least the fact that search is not the point anymore; it’s about intent, task completion, knowledge, voice, etc etc. What may have seemed like a “Google killer” three years ago is irrelevant and obsolete in 2015. Then there’s the fact that Apple are pretty lousy at cloud, and google is the best. Never mind a billion Android users and a $50b cash pile. Dream on.

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    • That was before they started building their server farms, in a few years time Apple’s cloud will be awesome.

      Apple also have 800m credit card users, the ones who actually spend money buying stuffs from Apple.

      Well, the dream is coming true for Apple and need not compete by racing to the bottom like others who only know how to compete on price.

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    • HA, Ha, Who’s Dreaming On is YOU, BiLly !

      People Beginning to Feel About Google’s Search like This Recently.

      Edmund April 28, 2014 at 12:53 pm – Reply
      For the items that I search for in my business I’ve found that Google is becoming less and less reliable since it moved to the Social side – quite simple searches that used to hit the correct result within one or two lines now feed pages of gibberish and social comment with suggestions like “did you mean?” instead of an answer.
      Remember AltaVista anyone …?

      Edmund is NOT ONLY ONE Feeling Like THAT !
      What is Happening Inside Google ?
      One Thing, For Sure, is Google’s Moved The Center of Gravity From Their CORE BUSINESS ” Search ” To Too Many Crappy Business Such As Google Plus, MalDroid, Google Glass, Self-Driving Car etc. etc.
      Instead of Enhancing & Making Progress Their CORE BUSINESS, THEY’ve Played Around Nasty Business which Only Limited Geeks and Their WORSHIPPERS Can Get EXCITED.

      I Tell You One Example.
      I Have Thought ” Google’s Search is INVINCIBLE ” like Others Do.
      But Recently I Found, As Far As ” Image Search ” is Concerned At Least, Bing Excels Google at Bigger Margin !
      How ? I Recommend Readers of This Article Try Themselves and Make Sure How Bing’s Image Search and Google’s Image Search Differ and Result.
      Key Word is ” Other Sizes “.
      I Even Now Think Google’s Image Search Has VITAL SHORTCOMING for Every Searchers.

      Even After ” FIASCO ” of Google’s Latest Earning Conference Call Result Last Week 16/April/2014, The Motley Fool – Ishfaque Faruk Wrote SUCH BOGUS ARTICLE !

      ” Google’s CORE BUSINESS CRISIS ! ”

      Google Big Missed Earnings Estimates

      At Their Latest Earning Conference Call on 16/April/2014 ( 2 Weeks Ago ), Google Reported Revenue ex-traffic Acquisition costs of $11.33 billion, well below the Wall Street Estimates at $11.9 billion.
      Non-GAAP EPS of $9.03 a share was down from $9.72 a year ago, and DRAMATICALLY BELOW The Street Consensus at $10.65 a share.
      Non-GAAP operating margin plunged to 27%, from 37% in the year ago quarter.

      While revenues were strong, EPS missed TAC as a percentage of revenue increased, MARGINS SHRANK and Cost-per-Click was DOWN.

      SOMETHING VERY CRUCIALLY DESTRUCTIVE TO THEIR CORE BUSINESS IS HAPPENING !!!!!!

      There were problems elsewhere on the balance sheet as well, namely in Google’s Core Department : SEARCH.

      Cost-per-click was Down by 9 % Annually, although it was Flat Sequentially.

      And “Click Prices Declined for the Fourth Consecutive Quarter after Rising for Eight Consecutive Quarters before then, ” he said. “That’s a VERY VERY NEGATIVE. This is the mobile problem. ”

      So I Suppose, Regardless of Apple’s Entry to Their Core Business, Google’s ” DEMISE ” Has Already Begun !

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  4. Amen Brother! Bias, advertising and NSA free search, even if slower and not as innovative as Google would be fine by me. I cringe every time I have to go do an internet search.

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  5. I’ve been prognosticating so long on the merits of Apple entering the search space, that people are sick of hearing me talk/write about it. It turned out their datacenter acquisitions were iCloud related, none-the-less, I’ve copy-and-pasted my reply from AdAge below. I still believe it would be an incredibly smart move:

    http://adage.com/article/digital/apple-launching-a-search-engine-time/142873/

    I believe that you underestimate the degree of brand loyalty that Apple users have. If Apple launched a search engine, they would own the majority of their Mac desktop users right out of the gate. Whether you think that’s silly or snub your nose in the general direction of Apple “fan boyz” is really beside the point. More importantly than any of that, actions speak louder than words. If Apple isn’t planning on entering the search market, then why have they been on a buying spree, plucking up used data-centers through Stream Realty Partners? And if not, then why is Apple building a 500,000 sq. ft. data-center (one of the largest in the world) from the ground up in Maiden, North Carolina (at the intersection of several major internet backbones) ? I personally think Apple has to get into search. In the long run I believe it is existential to their long term survival. Microsoft certainly thinks it is. Google receives 97% of its profits from search. And it uses that money to enter other markets competing at the price of “free,” effectively leveraging its search business to subsidize all of its other products and services — indeed, some could argue that this strategy is not unlike Microsoft entering the Browser market competing at the price of “free”, by leveraging their desktop monopoly. The easiest way for Apple to cut Google would be to siphon off a percentage of Google’s search users, whereby depriving Google of a percentage of the revenue they are using to finance their march into Apple’s markets. When, at a January internal rally-the-troops meeting, it was widely leaked that Steve Jobs said, ‘We didn’t enter the search business, Google entered the phone business.’ That was the shot across the bow (and was also bullshit, as Apple’s quiet acquisition of data-centers had already been well underway).

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  8. Here’s where’d I like to see Apple go with all this…

    Apple is a premium brand. At this point in time, the Internet experience has a particular sameness about it, no matter who you are. Bill Gates has to see as many ads and gets data-mined as much as I do.

    Apple has always positioned its products as best-of-class, and charges a premium for it. We can debate whether or not Apple actually has a premium product these days (I think the Nexus has some superior qualities over the iPhone); but Apple’s brand is nonetheless considered top-of-the-line.

    Being connected in 2014 comes with a base price: “All your data are belong to us”, and “Don’t get annoyed if we pop in with an ad.” It’s a standard of the web that extends to any device, for anyone one. There’s no concept of premium at all.

    Google charges us nothing in return for sprinkling ads througout our internet experience. Google’s only truly proven revenue model is free search in return for ads and forking over some portion of your digital identity. “Trust us” seems to be their true tag line.

    Apple could really dent Google if it produced an ad-free search (Found), that was centered around the user’s digital experience of the world, desktop and mobile—all of it combined with Apple’s hardware.

    Since, as an Apple customer, I am paying extra dollars for a premium experience, that experience should extend beyond the hardware, OS, and apps in my hand to include the whole connected enchilada. If I am paying for premium, how about getting an internet with nearly no ads, search that doesn’t stalk me, and a guarantee that my data belongs to me and that Apple is bending over backwards to make my persona virtually impossible to compile, much less sell? And if my persona is making anyone money, it’s me if I decide to sell portions of it?

    If freemium has meant giving away one’s persona, then premium should mean that customer dollars deliver as much privacy as possible, and an internet environment that is pure and devoid of commercial intrusion. If Apple succeeds, it sells lots and lots of iPhones and iStuff.

    We are all aware that this is the Age of Snowden. Part of it has to do with data-collecting corporate behavior among the tech giants, and their collusion with the government—actually, many governments throughout the world.

    Apple’s definition of “premium” could be a really high bar that the likes of Google could not jump over. Google’s whole model presumes that the user is theirs for the taking.

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  9. I’ve often thought that Apple may need to enter search to ‘stay in the game’, but rather than focus on the business strategy behind such a move, I’ve been more interested in what an Apple search engine may look and feel like, as a user experience, because my initial interest in improving search has come from an assessment that Google hasn’t innovated in its search UI/UX in some years.

    For example; a ‘modern’ dominant search engine, like Google’s, _should_ allow the user to choose between search algorithms eg page rank, some kind of social rank, etc. This should have been released by Google at least 3+ years ago. Instead they’ve barely tweaked their Advanced Search options and have done a poor job of integrating them into their user-facing UI.

    On the topic of search UI’s – there are a few superior ones for speeding up sorting/filtering/finding the information in search results, and fortunately the best of them, happen to be perfect for mobile. However, Google has barely touched their search UI but for a few quickly dropped experiments, and very likely because they need to stagger out results to match as many advertisements as they can against them.

    It’s this lack of innovation in the front-end of search that has inspired me to invent a few superior UIs to Google’s search, one which I would claim to be the nth-gen UI for search, being very hard to beat, at least for web and mobile/apps (although a new device initiated paradigm like wearables may call for a few tweaks).

    I’m not in a position to influence Google, but a company like Apple that has a history of caring for UI/UX, could bring the right innovation to search UX to attract enough users to force Google to refocus on improving its core user product, search.

    More competition in search is always a good thing, and for many reasons.

    If such a search startup exists in Israel or anywhere, please PM me at my reddit address ( reddit.com/user/ideas_for_lol ), to discuss my nth-gen UI/UX ideas for search. I’ve developed an international reputation for inventing business models and UIs that have later come to market.

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    • Next Dominant Company maybe in your timeframe, every 17 years (MS-DOS/IBM-PC 1981, Google online 1998, Next Dominant Company 2015) !!!
      Next Dominant Company may have to do with improved interaction with searchresults leaving google webinterface behind…, imagine a layer that converts the knowledge contained in the first 100 or so searchresults as a personalized semantic hierarchy, where YOU can navigate at a glance to the specific piece of information you’re looking for, and in case it’s missing, that offers participation In knowledge accumulation in a wikipedia style, but more structured and more fine grained!!!

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      • may be it’s as simple as that: oculus rift its the next dominating company! (timeframe would be a fit!)

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      • link: http://www.wired.com/2014/05/oculus-rift-4/#slide-id-914241
        …“I’VE SEEN FIVE OR SIX DEMOS THAT MADE ME THINK THE WORLD WAS ABOUT TO CHANGE: APPLE II, NETSCAPE, GOOGLE, IPHONE … THEN OCULUS.”
        …Now Oculus is hard at work on its long-awaited headset for consumers, which the company predicts will be released later this year, or more likely early next year, or perhaps even not so early next year. Whenever it comes, we’ll finally have something that has eluded us for more than 30 years: immersive, affordable virtual reality.
        …This is going to be bigger than we ever expected.

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  14. My favorite part of this post is that not one commenter yet appears to understand it is not about Apple/Jobs, and your belief that the next battle between FB and Google will be over voice and messaging.

    As to who will win, well, that’s why they play the game, eh?

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  31. Apple could execute an iTunes developer model with Found – allow users to opt in for advertisements, if they so desired, keep 30% of the ad in house & pay the user a % of the remaining 70% for viewing, clicking, tracking, and other accumulated marketing data. This micro-payment would be credited to the user’s iTunes account, and essentially, would brilliantly come out of Google’s pocket.

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  36. I am amazed that almost everyone here seems to think Google is in the search business. In the beginning they may have been in the search business, but not too long afterwards, they realized that they had to be in the advertising business to stay in business. That’s why they developed gmail, etc.

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  37. I agree that Google is vulnerable. Their path is similar to MSFT since the mid 90’s. During this period MSFT has spent billions on seemingly every trend in an attempt to dominate. Though they were successful at capturing share in the markets for browser, ISP, and video consoles, these categories did not return profits and proved to be largely irrelevant to the future of their business. While MSFT coveted these categories, Apple was focus on building devices that were able to capture a major share of the OS market as it fractured into new categories (mobile and tablet).

    Like MSFT, Google has spent heavily in numerous categories that have failed to generate profits. The lack of congruousness to their acquisitions and seemingly limitless diversity of their product offerings, indicates to me that they are trying to cover all bases as opposed to have a succinct plan going forward. Google may have a plan for the future, but they will never be able dominate with of a clear and concise vision of what that is and who they are.

    I would expect that AAPL will continue doing what they do best and leverage their user base by embedding technology like iBeacons, Siri, iAdd and other features into their ecosystem. Apple sells devices. Those devices happen to have software and that makes them a competitor to MSFT. Those devices hold the attention of the user and capture an enormous opportunity to place adds in front of them in some very creative ways..ways that cannot be matched by simple horizontal integration.

    The future for Google may be to spend a lot and while failing to dominate the next paradigm of search. I don’t think that means Apple beats them at search as we know it, MSFT still owns the desktop, but I do think the evolving marketplace will leave a poorly focused Google behind.

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  40. Really neat article and interesting perspective. However, when you said the following, I’m curious…
    “While Google Plus was superior in many ways, Google was not able to bust the Facebook franchise.”
    What is different about Apple’s search product, and why would this same logical conclusion not apply to Google, who has an incredible franchise in search? What is it about Apple that will allow it to avoid being another “superior” product, yet unable to bust the Google franchise?

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