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Later this year, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will release macOS Sierra, the next version of its Mac operating system. Sierra will bring a number of notable improvements to Apple's PCs, including support for Apple Pay and deeper integration with iOS devices.

It also brings Siri, Apple's digital personal assistant. Siri made her debut back in 2011, but it's taken Apple a full five years to bring her to the Mac. Nevertheless, her introduction could dramatically improve the productivity of Mac users, and give them a new way to interact with their machines. It could also pose a threat to Alphabet's (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google.

Siri comes to the desktop

Once they've installed Sierra, Mac users will be able to call on Siri by speaking to their machines. It's a bit of a shift from the familiar mouse and keyboard, but impressions have been generally favorable. Wired's David Pierce described the process of using Siri on the Mac as "almost natural" and "definitely useful." Ultimately, he concluded that Siri may be better on the Mac than she is on the iPhone.

In addition to her standard functionality, Mac Siri can conduct special Mac-related tasks, like searching local files or changing settings. iPhone users often find Siri most useful when they aren't actually using their phones at all -- Apple has trumpeted Siri's hands-free features as a key selling point in recent years. But on the Mac, she offers the prospect of improved multi-tasking. A Mac owner can use Siri to change a setting, play a song, or find a file without leaving their current application.

The inclusion of Siri probably won't help Apple sell that many more Macs, as competing machines running Windows 10 have something similar. Still, it does enhance Apple's offerings and ensures that the company is keeping pace with its rivals.

Cortana has helped Bing capture share

Perhaps more interesting is what Siri could do to the search market. Beyond finding files and changing settings, Siri can be used to scour the web. Since 2013, she's relied on Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Bing to do so. Unless you specifically request Google, simple commands such as "find me chicken recipes" will result in Siri conducting a Bing search. Last December, research firm Kantar found that Siri relied on Bing frequently. Analyzing the behavior of 3,000 different Siri users, Kantar found that Bing powered 63% of the searches Siri conducted.

Microsoft's share of the U.S. search market has been rising in recent quarters. In July, 2015, Bing captured 20.4% of the U.S. desktop search market, according to comScore. Google's share was more than three times higher, at 64%. But over the last year, the gap has closed a bit. In June, comScore reported Bing's market share at 21.8%. Meanwhile, Google stood at 63.8%.

That shift has been driven by Windows 10 -- last quarter, over 40% of Microsoft's search revenue came from Windows 10 devices. Like macOS Sierra, Windows 10 includes a digital personal assistant: Cortana, which, unsurprisingly, is also powered by Bing. Cortana is integrated directly into the Windows 10 taskbar, and on many PCs can be summoned with a quick voice command. To date, Windows 10 users have asked Cortana more than 8 billion questions, and 100 million Windows 10 users rely on her each month.

Siri's addition to the Mac could have a similar effect. There are fewer Mac users than Windows users, obviously, but Siri could shift some search queries to Bing in the months ahead.

If Bing's share of the search market continues to rise, Microsoft may have Apple to thank.

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Categorized in Science & Tech

Ha! Hold on. Let me walk around a little, calm down. Ummm… so Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray, the guy who was right about the iPad because he wouldn’t shut up about it for most of the last five years, is saying there’s a “70% chance” that Apple will build a search engine. Barring thought that Apple needs to run a search engine like a fish needs to run a bicycle factory, let’s look at what he’s saying (via BusinessInsider)

We believe Apple could utilize data unavailable to Google, data generated by the company’s App Store, to create a mobile centric search engine, which would be a unique offering to Google’s search engine.

An iPhone specific search engine could be a difficult undertaking, but we feel Apple could make a minor acquisition of a search company that has built a web index, like a Cuil, and utilize the index as the base for building its own engine.

We believe the odds of Apple developing a search engine in the next five years are 70%. One hurdle for Apple in developing its own search engine would be generating enough advertiser interest to form a competitive marketplace; however, we believe the rationale for an Apple search product is to protect data rather than generate profit.

While I rarely enjoy point-by-point takedowns, I’m feeling rather frisky on this one. Let’s begin:

1. We believe Apple could utilize data unavailable to Google, data generated by the company’s App Store, to create a mobile centric search engine. – So this would search for popular Apps? Is that a “search engine” or a Genius system for apps. I suspect the latter. Maybe Gene didn’t get the the right term when he checked his Webster’s Dictionary of Computer Terms he bought in college.

2. we feel Apple could make a minor acquisition of a search company that has built a web index, like a Cuil – Remember Cuil? Well no one else does. Apparently someone mentioned Cuil at Munster’s bridge club tournament after reading about it an an old 2008 issue of Fast Company they found in the dentist’s office and it stuck. Someone could have said AltaVista and the same thing could have happened.

3. One hurdle for Apple in developing its own search engine would be generating enough advertiser interest – Because who wouldn’t want to work arm-in-arm a distant, far-from-mainstream search contender dedicated to sifting the ether for data on Hot Tub Time Machine soundboards?

4. we believe the rationale for an Apple search product is to protect data rather than generate profit. – Now this one is rich. Apparently Smith & Wollensky had two-for-one martini night and Munster’s dining partner – the one who probably planted this seed in the first place – apparently partook. “Protect data rather than generate profit” sounds exactly like something Apple would do. After all, they’re in the business of making things better for all of us. If you haven’t visited the Apple Health Centers where they can cure future brain embolisms by bathing you in purple light, you’re missing out. Just don’t take their flu vaccine.

I hate to single anyone out – we all make crazy proclamations, especially when we’re hopped up on Skittles and chocolate milk (not naming names) – but WTF? This is more egregious than usual, friends. Analysts know little more than we do, and that’s not saying much.

https://techcrunch.com/2010/03/31/munster-apple-will-build-a-search-engine-me-april-fools/

Categorized in Search Engine
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