Jun 12

Is Apple's Spotlight Makeover A Sore Spot for Digital Marketers… And Google?

Apple is clearly trying to break it’s addiction to Google products. After the Apple Maps debacle last year, it’s clear Apple is carving out a new battlefield in this war amongst tech giants–but this time it’s around search. This was one of the big takeaways from the WWDC conference on Monday–Apple is overhauling their operating system and taking center stage is ‘Search.’ Spotlight is now tied into the Safari browsing bar, when before it was Google. Spotlight isn’t hidden away in the top corner, it’s front and center on the screen with two simple keystrokes. As expected, Apple’s leaders got on stage to reveal all of this ‘awesome’ news and tout how they were the best. But we’ve been down this road before. Apple announces a bunch of ‘awesome’ news, then the developers take it for a spin. Then the real world gets the software months later only to realize the use cases they presented on stage worked fine, but when you veer outside of those intended uses, things get dicey very quickly. This has been the case for many Apple software projects. Hello Siri… Or Apple Maps, or Mac.com before it was iCloud, or a number of other false starts (If you’re going to be on the edge of innovation, this stuff is going to happen). Personally, I think Apple learned it’s lesson with Maps. But I also know how big the team of geniuses working on Search is at Google. So there’s bound to be disappointment. And make no mistake, this battle over search in OS X will have a real impact on digital advertising dollars. As Apple weens us off Google and the browser bar for every query, we could see AdWords share of impressions decline. As Apple appears to be posed to squeeze search sessions from Google, it’s clear Google will be responding in-kind. We can expect more independence and less collaboration from Apple and Google, and as a digital marketer, I see that as a backward step for our industry. As an Apple fan, I’m disappointed too. So, what do you think? Will Apple’s new version of Spotlight (and disavowing Google in the search bar) be to the delight or detriment of users? Or will users even notice a difference? I think advertisers will.