Apple and Microsoft are discussing making Bing the default search engine on the iPhone, according to Businessweek:
The talks have been under way for weeks, say the people (close to the matter), who asked not to be named because the details have not been made public. The discussions could still unravel and may not be concluded quickly. Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw and Apple spokeswoman Katie Cotton declined to comment.
The discussions reflect the accelerating rivalry between Apple and Google, now the main provider of Web search on the iPhone. While the two companies have worked as partners in the past and Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt had a seat on Apple’s board, Apple and Google have more recently begun competing in several markets, including mobile phones. Google sells a smartphone, the Nexus One, that competes directly with the iPhone and it has spearheaded development of a wireless handset operating system that rivals the iPhone OS.
A deal between Apple and Microsoft may mean iPhone owners would automatically get Microsoft’s Bing as the main search engine, possibly requiring users to actively change phone settings if they want to search via Google. Google is now the default search engine on the iPhone. To search via Bing, a user needs to download a Bing application or go through the browser to call up www.bing.com. Microsoft may also be lobbying to make Bing an alternative on Apple’s Safari browser for Mac users. Currently, Mac users can choose either Google or Yahoo search through the Safari browser.
Being the default search engine on the iPhone carries financial benefits for Google, which collects revenue from ads placed alongside its search results and shares a portion of that with Apple. Most mobile advertising now is viewed on Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch, according to mobile advertising company AdMob. To clinch the deal, Microsoft may be willing to share a higher portion of its revenue or pay a larger flat annual fee than Google does. Neither Apple nor Google discloses the financial terms of their search partnership.
“Apple and Google know the other is their primary enemy,” says one of the people, who’s familiar with Apple’s thinking. “Microsoft is now a pawn in that battle.”
Apple also has its own mobile search platform in the works, according to the article. By using Bing as the default, the company might just be buying itself time–and slowing down Google–until its own product releases.
Personally, I’d remove Bing as soon as I found it on my iPhone. I wonder whether Apple is considering adding Bing to its menu of search choices, rather than making it a default installation. The latter would just be too Microsoft in nature.