Tiny search engine DuckDuckGo scored a huge victory yesterday when Apple announced DuckDuckGo would be an option included in future versions of its Safari web browser, as a privacy feature. But did DuckDuckGo pay to make that happen, as others like Google do? That’s private, and DDG can’t say.
“The terms are confidential. Needless to say though DuckDuckGo is thrilled to be included in Safari,” DuckDuckGo’s CEO and founder Gabriel Weinberg emailed, when we asked if there was any paid component to the arrangement, either a direct payment of some type or compensation in any way.
Apple Keeps Its Deals Secret
That terms aren’t being shared isn’t surprising. Apple never shares details about its arrangements. Neither do its partners, other than to admit occasionally that there’s some type of deal in place. Google last talked about its Apple deal briefly 2011, to my knowledge; Microsoft did the same for its deal with Siri last year and the Spotlight deal yesterday.
Amounts paid or the mechanics aren’t revealed, something I’ve suggested the US Federal Trade Commission should consider forcing, so consumers have a greater awareness of why certain defaults are pushed at them:
The commission may also wish to ponder if the guidelines should be extended to hardware and software manufacturers as well as broadband and wireless providers, all of which may cut deals deciding which search engine will be the default on their devices, programs and operating systems.
Consumers may not understand that payment was involved in the choice made for them and may find it difficult to impossible to change, such as seems to be the case with the search engines used by default with Google’s Galaxy Nexus phone or Apple’s iPhone 4S.
The FTC didn’t care, ignoring this issue.
We have had estimates that Apple makes as much as $1 billion per year off its deal with Google, likely keeping the majority of ad revenue generated and perhaps with some minimum revenue guaranteed.
It’s unlikely that Apple would make much, if anything, off DuckDuckGo. Despite being an option that will be included by default in new versions of Safari, it won’t be the default choice. That remains Google; anyone wanting to use DDG will have to manually make a change.
That’s a huge boost for the tiny search engine that’s made a name for itself in promising private searching. But while DuckDuckGo has had record-breaking traffic when measured against itself, concerns over privacy haven’t caused any significant switching away from Google.
While switching will be easier now for Safari users, and DDG itself will no doubt have further record-breaking numbers from the deal, those numbers will be measured in millions rather than Google’s billions. This also means any payouts are likely to be minor.
When It Comes To Privacy, Apple Should Reveal Deals
Even if it’s only a low sum involved (or perhaps nothing at all), this is one case where Apple should open up about the deal. If you’re going to bill your browser as having a new privacy feature, as Apple does, then ensuring that users fully understand why you made a choice — including financial compensation — seems wise:
Will DDG Have To Forget?
A last thought. DuckDuckGo might find the deal comes with some unexpected baggage, having to deal with Europe’s new Right To Be Forgotten. That’s applicable to any search engine deemed to have an EU presence. A deal of any type to be included in a browser that’s distributed in Europe might make it fall under this regulation.
Assuming people send requests for removal to DDG, that is. Chances are, they won’t — fixating instead only on Google, as has seemed to be the case so far.
- Big Win For DuckDuckGo: Apple Adding To Safari As Private Search Option
- Apple Drops Google For Bing As “Spotlight” Search Provider In iOS 8 & Mac OS X “Yosemite”
- A Letter To The FTC Regarding Search Engine Disclosure Compliance
- FTC Updates Search Engine Ad Disclosure Guidelines After “Decline In Compliance”
- Financial Analyst Affirms Google’s $1 Billion In “Default Search” Payments To Apple
- DuckDuckGo Has Biggest Day Ever In 2014 With More Than 4 Million Queries On January 7th
- Duck Duck Go’s Post-PRISM Growth Actually Proves No One Cares About “Private” Search
- DuckDuckGo Relaunches & Starts To Look Like A Real Search Engine