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Google Struggles To Boost Search Traffic On Its iPhone Apps

Google struggles to shift iPhone searches to its apps, reaching a low 30% adoption, as antitrust concerns loom over the Safari partnership.

  • Google aims to reduce reliance on Apple's Safari browser.
  • Progress in shifting iPhone users to Google apps is slower than expected.
  • An antitrust ruling could threaten Google's default iPhone search status.

According to a report by The Information, Google is working to reduce its reliance on Apple’s Safari browser, but progress has been slower than anticipated.

As Google awaits a ruling on the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust lawsuit, its arrangement with Apple is threatened.

The current agreement, which makes Google the default search engine on Safari for iPhones, could be in jeopardy if the judge rules against Google.

To mitigate this risk, Google encourages iPhone users to switch to its Google Search or Chrome apps for browsing. However, these efforts have yielded limited success.

Modest Gains In App Adoption

Over the past five years, Google has increased the percentage of iPhone searches conducted through its apps from 25% to the low 30s.

While this represents progress, it falls short of Google’s internal target of 50% by 2030.

The company has employed various marketing strategies, including campaigns showcasing features like Lens image search and improvements to the Discover feed.

Despite these efforts, Safari’s preinstalled status on iPhones remains an obstacle.

Financial Stakes & Market Dynamics

The financial implications of this struggle are considerable for both Google and Apple.

In 2023, Google reportedly paid over $20 billion to Apple to maintain its status as the default search engine on Safari.

By shifting more users to its apps, Google aims to reduce these payments and gain leverage in future negotiations.

Antitrust Lawsuit & Potential Consequences

The ongoing antitrust lawsuit threatens Google’s business model.

If Google loses the case, it could potentially lose access to approximately 70% of searches conducted on iPhones, which account for about half of the smartphones in the U.S.

This outcome could impact Google’s mobile search advertising revenue, which exceeded $207 billion in 2023.

New Initiatives & Leadership

To address these challenges, Google has brought in new talent, including former Instagram and Yahoo product executive Robby Stein.

Stein is now tasked with leading efforts to shift iPhone users to Google’s mobile apps, exploring ways to make the apps more compelling, including the potential use of generative AI.

Looking Ahead

With the antitrust ruling on the horizon, Google’s ability to attract users to its apps will determine whether it maintains its search market share.

We’ll be watching closely to see how Google navigates these challenges and if it can reduce its reliance on Safari.


Featured Image: photosince/shutterstock

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SEJ STAFF Matt G. Southern Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt G. Southern, Senior News Writer, has been with Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a bachelor’s degree in communications, ...

Google Struggles To Boost Search Traffic On Its iPhone Apps

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