Lost in the flurry of iPad-palooza news, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster went out on a limb last week.
He argues that there's a 70% chance that Apple
I have no problem climbing out further on Munster's limb. I believe that there's closer to a 100% chance that Apple throws its weight behind search, and it will happen a lot sooner than five years from now.
Let's go over the reasons why it makes perfect sense for Apple to launch a search party.
1. Sleeping with the enemy is unhealthy
Munster argues that having Google
Google and Apple have gone from being friends to frenemies, and it's really just a matter of time before they are full-blown adversaries.
What can Apple do? Well, it can't replace Google with Microsoft's
Apple is down to turning to an upstart engine, rolling out its own, or acquiring a promising start-up and rolling it out as its own.
2. Search is where it's at
There is clearly plenty of money to be made in search, specifically in paid search. Turning engine queries into leads for keyword-bidding sponsors is a huge business. Google commands a market cap of more than $180 billion, generating the lion's share of its money through online advertising. Baidu
Apple may not seem like a big threat to command gobs of market share across its appliances to bring out the high-bidding advertisers, but one also can't forget that it reaches a more affluent crowd than its competitors given the premium pricing of its computers, smartphones, and portable media players.
If Apple is leaving money on the table by outsourcing paid search -- or at the very least failing to make the direct connections with advertisers -- it's unlikely to continue for too much longer.
3. The time is right
Apple doesn't need search. It's doing just fine moving MacBooks and iPhones. It's also benefiting from having Google and Bing compete for Apple's juicy real estate, so it may be generating more now in search than it would in the near term if it were to go it alone.
However, this is also a similar approach to Apple's stateside exclusivity with AT&T
Humility has aided Apple in the past. The iPod wasn't an overnight success in 2001. If iTunes had been only available through Macs, it wouldn't be the portable digital media player of choice these days.
Today's Apple is a cocky one. It dares to dismiss Adobe's
Before its courage fades, it may as well make the bold and forward-thinking entry into search.
After all, what else is a Safari for?
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been an Apple fan for ages, and will go out on a limb by proclaiming that there's a 99% chance of Apple entering mobile search at least within the next three years. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.