Is Apple preparing to take $8B from Google?

Can you see Apple's big search picture?

Search me

It’s probably fair to say the relationship between Apple and Google/Alphabet remains in the soup, even though iOS devices account for an estimated 75 percent of the search giant’s mobile search revenue.

Now it seems Apple may hit Google with an $8 billion charge on its profits, with the analysts at CCS Insight predicting the company will replace Google search with Bing as the default search engine on Apple products, by the end of 2017. (2017 will also be when “Google is forced to offer a dedicated Google update service," which will be way past time, in my opinion).

We’ve anticipated such a move for some time, of course. Apple has already made it easy to use a range of different search engines, including the excellent Duck Duck Go on its products. And there’s no way Apple can easily reconcile the billions of dollars Google makes from feeding ads to iOS devices.

CCS Insights also suggested Apple will acquire key cloud companies as part of its move to provide cloud services for enterprises engaged in digital transformation. Specifically, they suggest Apple may acquire Box or Dropbox, both key cloud service companies Apple appears to have grown closer too in recent months.

Into the cloud

Apple CEO Tim Cook made some key statements to Box CEO Aaron Levie at BoxWorks in September, telling us that the enterprise segment has become a $25 billion annual business for Cupertino.

Noting the importance of digital transformation to the way we work -- specifically the need to make business processes more efficient, rather than demanding longer employee hours -- Cook said:

“We’re all working flat out.… There’s no more time in the day, so you have to transform your business.”

The Dropbox relationship also appears sealed with something like a kiss, with Apple’s SVP software and services, Eddy Cue, appearing at the Dropbox Open conference earlier this month, where he talked about the iPad Pro and enterprise IT.

Like his boss said at Box, Cue confirmed the collision between work and home computing. “There’s no longer the enterprise in the sense of the products you use there that you don’t use somewhere else. Now, you get to use the products everywhere,” he said.

Condoleeza Rice for the Apple board?

Cue’s right, of course – the silo-based world in which the devices you use at work are different from those used at home is rapidly evaporating in the wake of BYOD.

The evolution of cloud services, SaaS, or even cloud-based infrastructure means enterprise computing is less and less concerned with hardware and more reliant on standards, software and services. (Though it might be ‘interesting’ to see how Apple’s executives get along with Dropbox board member, Condoleezza Rice.)

We’re in a new enterprise universe, in which any device and any platform should work with any business process from anywhere and on any network, so long as the solution remains in line with corporate or legal security protocols. It's a place in which intelligence is increasingly sown into the network itself.

Mobile transformation

The ease with which Apple’s solutions can be brought in line with the latter is just one of the reasons for the company’s success across Fortune 500 firms. IBM’s recent claim that for each Mac it deploys it is realizing a real world saving of $270/user/year does nothing to dent interest among switched-on CIOs.

There are numerous other Apple-related predictions: By 2020, mobile device apps will be able to perform medical diagnoses and triage patients; by 2017, key retailers will begin offering sales inducements to Apple Pay users; and by 2020, Google will license its self-driving car technologies to auto manufacturers. (Apple’s autonomous automobiles seem likely to follow their own road.)

However, the consensus seems to be that Apple is in a good position to increase its enterprise offer, and that Google's business will be stretched.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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