Apple should buy privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo, analyst says

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DuckDuckGo offers great image search, plus it doesn’t track you.
Great image search, plus it doesn’t track you.
Image: DuckDuckGo

Even though Google pays a hefty sum to stay the default iPhone search engine, an industry analyst suggests Apple should buy rival DuckDuckGo anyway.

That likely wouldn’t be the end of Google and Apple’s cooperation on search, according to AllianceBernstein’s Toni Sacconaghi. But it would strengthen Apple’s bargaining position.

Apple and Google in hardball negotiations

The analyst raises the possibility that Google could decide to stop paying Apple $7 billion to $8 billion a year to stay the default iPhone search engine in the Safari web browser.

Sacconaghi says Google has been willing to cough up this much to prevent Apple from partnering with Microsoft Bing instead. But he then points out that Bing has a mere 2.6% of the global search market, compared to Google’s 92%. Perhaps Google isn’t as worried about its rival as it once was.

Apple and DuckDuckGo could be a match

The AllianceBernstein analyst points out that Apple could buy DuckDuckGo for less than $1 billion.

There’s a certain logic to the suggestion. The search engine emphasizes protecting user privacy. “Too many people believe that you simply can’t expect privacy on the Internet. We disagree and have made it our mission to set a new standard of trust online,” reads DuckDuckGo’s mission statement.

Apple holds a similar stance. “We believe privacy is a fundamental human right and purposely design our products and services to minimize our collection of customer data,” the company has said repeatedly.

Making DuckDuckGo the default search engine for Apple’s Safari web browser would seem a logical step. Especially since Google pays only lip service to consumer privacy. Its business model involves collecting personal information about users and selling it to advertisers.

But Sacconaghi doesn‘t think Apple will switch Safari’s default search tool from Google to DuckDuckGo. Acquiring the small search engine would be a move to ensure Google continues to pay billions each year for the privilege.

Even to Apple, that’s not a small sum. In 2019, the iPhone-maker’s total revenue came in at $260 billion. So about 3% of the company’s total comes from just making Google the default iPhone search engine.

But to get more private searches, you don’t need to blindly hope Apple makes the change. Read Cult of Mac’s guide to how to ditch Google and switch to DuckDuckGo.

Via: Seeking Alpha