If you’re an iOS user, you may think which web browser you choose is of little consequence. But for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), the difference between whether your finger taps the blue compass or the multicolored circle icon can eventually equate to big money.
Pay to play
Google pays a traffic acquisition cost (or TAC) to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) each year to make its search engine the primary search tool in iOS — and that cost is estimated to be more than $1 billion in 2014. That steep price has made Google intent on wooing iOS users to its Chrome browser. If Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) can get iOS users to switch from Safari to Chrome, the company could save a tremendous amount in these TAC costs.
Think of it this way: If Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) could shave off $300 million from the $1 billion it’ll pay to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in 2014, the company would save about as much as Motorola‘s quarterly operating losses.
But it has to get users to switch first.
From March to June of this year, Chrome’s growth on iOS went from 10.9% to 14.3% for active users. That’s a trend the company hopes will continue and it’s implementing new updates to ensure that it does. In July, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) updated the iOS Chrome app to include new features like wireless printing, and one really important new feature — data compression. Google said the update will speed up webpage loading and decrease data usage.
App features alone probably won’t convince Safari users to switch, though, so that’s why Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) recently released APIs for app developers that open Chrome when users follow a link. If you’re an iOS user, you’ve probably noticed that clicking on a link in the Gmail app opens Chrome rather than Safari, if Chrome is installed, of course. Google uses the same idea for other apps by giving users the option to open a link in Chrome rather than Safari. This will likely help Google make some additional gains against Safari, but it’s yet to be seen whether it will save Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) in future traffic acquisition costs.