The latest offering from America's largest wireless carrier is – a Google Search rival. Called OneSearch, the Verizon search engine is presently only available in the form of a website. Android and iOS apps will follow by the end of the month, according to the firm's Monday press release.
Verizon Media says it opted to launch a search engine in 2020 as part of an effort to improve consumer choice. Since it also describes OneSearch as a "privacy-focused" solution, the service is clearly meant to rival Google's monopoly. What's less clear is who's going to take it seriously.
The telecom giant plans to monetize OneSearch with ads and claims that business model isn't at odds with the app's privacy-oriented design. In other words, the platform will serve keyword-based advertising akin to DuckDuckGo.
Verizon is also open to integrating its Google Search rival into third-party products. Neither of those concepts are new or generally lacking in potential but Verizon's history makes their viability in this scenario questionable.
A "privacy-focused" search engine from the company accused of creating "spyware"
As laughable as the idea of a privacy-focused search engine from Verizon is, the Monday launch isn't unprecedented. On the contrary, OneSearch is just the latest example of the wireless giant's corporate activism in the segment. Naturally, none of that can erase prominent "spyware" accusations Verizon fielded in recent years.
Despite the move, the firm doesn't appear to be completely devoid of self-awareness. If anything, OneSearch overcompensates for the fact Verizon's public image doesn't exactly match that of a champion of data privacy.
The online service hence features an even privater "Advanced Privacy Mode". In essence, this functionality only serves ephemeral results pages, rendering search history useless.
A unique selling point that's a decade late to the market seeing how every browser under the sun now supports some sort of incognito mode which doesn't lock you into a specific search engine.
Due to a highly saturated core market, Verizon's been diversifying in 2010s. Those efforts led it to start investing in digital media which, in turn, resulted in various experiments with user data monetization.
While the company's pursuing growth out of a legal obligation, its commitments to shareholders hardly align with privacy-focused technologies.
Verizon's digital media unit built from the remnants of AOL and Yahoo dropped its Oath moniker just over a year ago.
What it has yet to drop is its erratic tendency to change product strategies on a quarterly basis. OneSearch is just another episode in that search for sustainability that seems to be dead on arrival. More divestments similar to last year's sale of Tumblr to Automattic hence appear to be on the table in 2020.