In a surprising revelation, it has come to light that tech giant Apple considered replacing Google as the default search engine in its Safari web browser with DuckDuckGo, a search engine known for its privacy-focused features. This move was intended to bolster private browsing options for Apple users and reduce reliance on the dominant search engine, Google.
DuckDuckGo, which was conceived as an alternative to Google, prioritizes user privacy by not storing search histories or tracking user information. Currently, Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet, faces legal proceedings in the United States over allegations of making payments to maintain its dominance as the primary search engine on web and mobile browsers. Recent data from Similar Web indicates that Google holds a staggering 90.68% market share.
The ongoing trial, which began in September, has featured private sessions involving Apple, a company that employs Google as the default search engine in its Safari browser.
Specifically, it has been revealed that Apple had contemplated replacing Google Search with DuckDuckGo several years ago, according to reports from Bloomberg. The publication disclosed that executives from both companies held meetings in 2018 and 2019 to discuss this transition.
District Judge Amit Mehta unveiled this information based on testimonies from DuckDuckGo’s CEO, Gabriel Weinberg, and another Apple executive, John Giannandrea, who testified during closed-door sessions.
Weinberg testified that DuckDuckGo had approximately 20 meetings and phone calls with Apple executives during those years, including the Safari director, to become the default search engine for private browsing mode.
While Weinberg expressed confidence that Apple would eventually integrate DuckDuckGo into Safari, the Apple executive insisted that, to the best of his knowledge, Apple had not considered changing its search engine.
Bloomberg noted that Giannandrea mentioned in a February 2019 email that such a modification was “likely a bad idea” for private browsing on Safari.
This executive also acknowledged during the closed session that Apple’s motivation to explore DuckDuckGo was rooted in the belief that it would better protect user security. However, he pointed out that since DuckDuckGo relies on Bing to provide search results, it was possible that it would share some user information with Microsoft, which contradicted the privacy marketing that the search engine touted.
It’s worth noting that in addition to DuckDuckGo, Apple also contemplated replacing Google Search with Microsoft’s Bing as the default search engine on its iPhones.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently admitted, as part of the ongoing trial against Google, that this switch ultimately did not happen because Apple feared that Google, through its extensive product portfolio, would promote Chrome downloads over Safari.
This revelation sheds light on the inner workings of tech giants and their considerations regarding user privacy and search engine choices. Apple’s contemplation of DuckDuckGo as a default search engine underscores the growing emphasis on user privacy in the digital landscape.
As the trial continues, it remains to be seen how these revelations will impact the future of search engines and online privacy.