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  • Voltaire Staff

Apple once considered replacing Google with search engine DuckDuckGo

A top Apple executive has revealed that the tech giant once considered partnering with small-time Google rival DuckDuckGo as its default search engine in the private mode. The Apple exec met 20 times with the company threshing out the details of the deal, till it fell through.

The information surfaced as the US District Justice Amit Mehta, who is presiding over the US' anti-trust trial against Google, made public the transcripts of depositions of Apple SVP of machine learning and AI strategy John Giannandrea and DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg.

According to their testimonies, Apple, which uses Google as default search engine for its Safari browser, had some serious talks with DuckDuckGo, but the deal fell through because of several factors, including Giannandrea having some apprehensions about the privacy credentials DuckDuckGo claims to flaunt as its USP.

As reported in Ars Technica, Giannandrea was keen to have exercised more due diligence if the switch had gone through, because he thought DuckDuckGo's "marketing about privacy is somewhat incongruent with the details" as the more stripped down search rival of Google relied on Microsoft's Bing in some areas.

Google has been under trial since last month over allegations by the US government of monopolising the search engine market through unfair means. The firm has so far been, among other things, made to depose about its ad sales practices, and has been forced to parry charges of hiking cost-per-click rates unilaterally to the detriment of advertisers and website owners. It has been accused of hoarding a large share of revenue that comes through ads that show up on websites via its search engine.

As it happens, DuckDuckGo has not been the sole alternative to Google that Apple has sounded out.

According to reports, Apple was in talks with Microsoft too in 2016 fiddling with the idea of replacing Google search with Bing. Microsoft even toyed with the idea of making some heavy investment in Apple to that end; however, nothing came out of it. The deal didn’t fructify because of juicy payments Apple gets from Google for using its search engine.

Reports say, a deal was struck between the two behemoths for between $2 billion and $7 billion in 2020 to continue with the arrangement.

According to Bloomberg, a DuckDuckGo spokesperson defended his firm against Giannandrea's privacy claims saying the search engine does prevent "hosting and content providers from creating a history of your searches."


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