Apple Considers DuckDuckGo for Safari's Private Search, Replacing Google

Revealed talks between Apple and DuckDuckGo illuminate the tech giant’s search for a privacy-focused alternative to Google in its Safari browser's private mode.

Apple Considers DuckDuckGo for Safari's Private Search, Replacing Google

Thursday October 05, 2023,

2 min Read

Apple Inc. engaged in negotiations with DuckDuckGo, considering a potential switch for its default search engine in Safari browser's private mode, but ultimately decided against it. This revelation comes amidst the unsealing of transcripts by the judge presiding over the U.S. government's antitrust trial against Google.

Apple-DuckDuckGo Negotiations

DuckDuckGo, renowned for its privacy-focused search services, engaged in approximately 20 meetings and phone calls with Apple executives, discussing the possibility of becoming the default search engine for Safari's private browsing. Despite these extensive discussions, the talks did not culminate in a partnership.

Concerns Over Privacy

A significant factor influencing Apple's decision against partnering with DuckDuckGo was the latter's reliance on Microsoft's Bing for search information. According to Apple executive John Giannandrea, this reliance cast doubts on DuckDuckGo’s privacy-centric marketing, causing perceived incongruities regarding their privacy practices.

Apple-Microsoft Talks

Interestingly, Apple had also explored the possibility of collaborating with Microsoft. In 2018 and again in 2020, the tech giants deliberated on potential joint ventures or even the sale of Bing to Apple. These discussions focused on integrating Bing as Safari’s default search engine but did not lead to a definitive agreement.

Search Engine Performance Analysis

During the discussions with Microsoft, Apple conducted a study comparing the search results provided by Bing and Google. The findings revealed that Google consistently delivered superior search results, with the sole exception of English language searches conducted on desktops, where Bing matched Google's performance.

Google's Market Dominance

These revelations arrive amidst a broader scrutiny of Google’s business practices. The U.S. Justice Department has accused Google of maintaining its search engine dominance by paying billions to companies, including Apple, for default search engine placements, thereby suppressing competition.

As the tech industry awaits further details on the negotiations between Apple, DuckDuckGo, and Microsoft, it is evident that Apple has actively explored alternatives to Google as its default search engine. These considerations highlight the ongoing tensions and competitive dynamics within the industry, as well as growing concerns over privacy and market dominance by major tech players.