Hartley Charlton for MacRumors:
Apple's search team is believed to contain at least 200 employees and powers the technology behind Spotlight, Siri Suggestions, and answers provided by Siri. The team is still at least four years away from launching an outright replacement to Google search, according to one person involved with the team speaking to The Information. While Google pays Apple around $15 billionper year to stay as the default search engine on Apple devices, Apple developing an in-house rival to Google search could increase its leverage during its periodic negotiations with Google over the deal.
As the article explains we have heard about an Apple Search since 2015. And I think this story will continue to catch more steam as Apple builds out its Ad services.
Also, for Apple to work on a search engine akin Google means that the opportunity is much larger than $15 Billion.