A feature article in BusinessWeek explores the differences in Steve Jobs and Tim Cook’s leadership styles and the cultural differences at Apple under the two CEOs. The article also asks the question: would Apple Maps in its current less-than-perfect form would have been released under Jobs?
Buried in the article is the following line: “Jobs also discussed pulling Google search from the iPhone, but figured that customers would reject that move, according to two former Apple executives.”
This fear was not unfounded. In 2009, when Verizon replaced Google with Bing as the default search engine on some of its BlackBerry devices, there was a user backlash and Verizon had to tell people “how to get Google back.”
From that experience, Search Engine Land editor-in-chief Danny Sullivan speculated earlier this year that Jobs held back from going “themonuclear” when it came to Google Search over possible consumer worries:
Let’s say that Apple did boot Google as the default search engine in favor of the only real alternative in the US, Microsoft’s Bing. What happens? For one, Apple’s simply swapped out one fierce competitor for another. More important, it makes that change at a serious risk that consumers of its devices might get upset.
This is essentially what’s been going on with Google Maps on the iPhone. Many iPhone owners want Google Maps back. Very soon, perhaps tomorrow, Google will be introducing an upgraded version of maps for the mobile web (via iOS), which will include StreetView images.
Yet the Apple Maps “debacle” probably secures Google’s place as the default search engine on the Safari browser is secure for the relatively long term — if not in perpetuity.
Apple is unlikely to mess with success by installing Bing or Yahoo as the default search provider, let alone try and provide search on its own. That latter scenario is much more unlikely, if not zero, after Apple Maps than before.