Apple is reportedly still “at least four years away” from being able to launch a competitive alternative to Google search. That’s according to a new report that points to recent departure of personnel brought into work on the project.
The report by The Information says that Apple bought a company called Laserlike in 2018 that was founded by a group of ex-Google engineers.
The company’s cofounder Srinivasan Venkatachary reportedly took over the role of senior director for Apple’s search team following the buyout, leading at least 200 people. That role involved working on features for Spotlight and Siri, but they’ve now left — and they’ve gone back to Google. And other former Laserlike employees have followed suit.
Venkatachary is now vice president of engineering at Google under James Manyika, senior vice president of technology and society, whose portfolio includes a group tasked with tracking how technologies such as artificial intelligence are affecting social issues, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Venkatachary’s fellow Laserlike co-founders, Steven Baker and Anand Shukla, are also part of his team, this person said. It couldn’t be learned what the former Apple employees are working on specifically.
The report goes on to say that while it isn’t clear if Apple wants to directly compete with Google for search, even if it was, it would still be four years away from being able to do so.
It says that a “significant increase in the team’s budget” would be required in order to speed things up, but it’s unlikely that the loss of key Laserlike employees is helping.
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