Apple recently announced the launch of “Applebot” which is a web crawling service that operates similar to Google Bot. The bot will scan through the internet, following links to all the different pages it can find. Along the way these types of bots (also commonly called spiders) pick up information such as the content of a site, load speeds and much much more. In the past many people thought that this type of bot from Apple would be used just to provide extra data to Siri and Spotlight on the IOS and OSX platforms, but that may not actually be the case.
While the bot itself has been around for a little while, Apple has never confirmed that it was being used or provided any information about it. That all changed with the recent documentation about it that was published by Apple. One key piece of information is that if the Apple bot doesn’t find instructions on a website’s robot.txt file for them specifically, they will follow the Google bot instructions.
With the official recognition of the Apple Bot and some of the information learned about it, it seems possible that Apple may actually be working on setting up their own search engine to compete with Google and Bing. Currently Apple is largely reliant on either Google, Bing or other search engines to provide their users with the search results that they want. While this is not always a bad thing, it does force some limitations on to Apple.
With Siri and things like that, the more control Apple has over the platforms the more powerful they will be able to make it. This is just one of many reasons why many industry experts are thinking that Apple will want to put together their own search engine. Of course, there is a lot of money to be made with search engines as well, if you can get enough people using them. Since Apple already has millions of active users, they can instantly become at least a second tier search engine just by changing the default settings on their iOS and OSX systems.
Of course, it could be that Apple is just looking to get this information to supplement what they get from Google & Bing. Personally it seems likely that Apple will want to enter the search engine market. It would provide them with a great new potential income stream and help further provide their users a seamless experience. For now, we’ll all just have to wait and see what happens while the Apple Bot keeps itself busy learning all about the sites on the web.