Citing unnamed sources TechCrunch is reporting that Bing will take over the role of default search provider on the Safari browser in the new iPhone OS. These rumors aren’t exactly new and we’ve written and speculated about them before:
- Report: Microsoft And Apple Discuss Making Bing Default Engine On The iPhone
- Apple CEO: Google Wants To “Kill The iPhone”
- Microsoft Earnings Beat Estimates Online Services Post Loss, More On Bing And The iPhone
However if Microsoft and Apple have reached such an agreement — the speculation is that Google pays roughly $100 million annually for the privilege today — it would be a strange and even remarkable turn of events.
Microsoft has been willing in the past to use its checkbook in its search battle with Google. For example, the company has successfully outbid Google and won “default” search deals with HP, Dell and Verizon. In the Verizon case, the informed speculation is that Redmond paid more than $500 million in revenue guarantees and other incentives to Verizon to secure the deal, which is wide ranging and involves both mobile search and display advertising.
Arguably a default iPhone search deal would be quite a bit more valuable than Microsoft’s deal with Verizon, which is busy promoting and building the brand of rival Android.
Continuing with this speculative line of argument, Microsoft’s willingness to top Google’s payments to Apple and Apple’s desire to be less entwined with Google may have combined (if TechCrunch is correct) to yield this new outcome. As they say, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
What a crazy and ironic situation if true: Apple and Microsoft teaming up against Google.
Considering that the iPhone deal established and then cemented Google’s position in mobile search it’s a substantial loss, although now Google sees the iPhone primarily as competition for Android. And Google may feel that it no longer needs the iPhone given the rise of Android.
For Microsoft, it’s a potentially huge deal and could boost the company’s visibility and search share in mobile. The iPhone Bing app has been quite popular and is a significant driver of mobile queries for Redmond. Of course it all remains to be seen.
We’ve asked for official comment from Microsoft and Google but don’t expect anything of substance at this point — leaving us to wait until June 7, or perhaps longer.
Update: An official Microsoft spokesperson said that the company won’t comment on “rumors and speculation.” However I just had an exchange with a Microsoft “insider” who is highly skeptical of the truth of the rumor.
Update 2: Another Microsoft spokesperson said the following:
With respect to the iPhone rumor, this is the third go-around with this particular rumor, and we’ve been consistent in saying that we’re not commenting.
Update 3: TechCrunch now has updated its story to say new sources explain the situation is “more complicated” than Bing becoming the default provider. Meanwhile at AllThingsD, Kara Swisher reports that the talks seem to be about including Bing as an option on the iPhone, not as a replacement to Google.
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