In my discussion yesterday of the comScore search data I neglected to point out (as GigaOm has) that Facebook saw 10 percent search query growth in the past month. That’s significant and it validates an argument I’ve long made that Facebook could turn out to be a meaningful player in search, which would in turn benefit Bing.
Here are the comScore “expanded” search data:
Meanwhile over on the other side of the globe Motorola has made a very public statement that whatever happens with Google in China, it will be working with Bing search on its Android handsets there. This comes from the press release out yesterday:
Motorola, Inc. today announced a global alliance with Microsoft Corp. to deploy Bing services on Motorola devices powered by Android. This new offering, launching in China on smartphones in Q1, will provide consumers a choice when using search and map functions on their Android-based devices.
With this collaboration, consumers will enjoy a pre-loaded Bing bookmark on their mobile browser and an enhanced search widget with Bing integration. By enabling users to customize their devices and select their own Search provider, Motorola, with help from Microsoft, is expanding the capabilities and range of services currently offered in the marketplace and opening the doors for increased personalization.
So what’s going on here? There is both text and subtext (not so sub in this case).
Motorola isn’t pulling out of China and has bet the farm on Android. Thus it wants to ensure that it has a viable search option if Google exits the Chinese search market. But more interesting is the fact that Motorola is pushing back very hard on Google with this. Arguably the only thing missing in Motorola’s statement is an expletive.
Note carefully the use of the language “global alliance.” Motorola is putting Google on notice that it may use Bing wherever Motorola handsets are sold. And in the US Motorola remains, ever so slightly, the largest handset OEM with just over 22% of the market.
This is a response to what Motorola may see as a kind of betrayal or strong arm tactics by Google with the Nexus One and its general behavior around dictating the software and user experience on Android handsets. Motorola would never come out and publicly say this — indeed Motorola was present at the Nexus One launch — but the company was caught off guard by the Google-branded handset.
This follows AT&T choosing Yahoo as the default search provider for the Motorola Backflip in the US.
Android is supposed to be an open system and allow for these kinds of alternative choices. However Google largely sees Android as its own platform and a way to grow Google services and search share in mobile.
Bing has very smartly uncoupled itself from the struggling Windows Mobile platform and done mobile deals with Verizon, now Motorola and maybe Apple (rumored). There’s also the successful Bing iPhone App.
Google remains, far and away, the mobile search leader on smartphones around the world. That’s mostly been about the iPhone and increasingly about Android growth and penetration. However this new Motorola-Bing “alliance” is an effort to put Google on notice that it doesn’t “own” Android and that all Android devices won’t equally be Google search devices going forward.