Microsoft and Apple are possibly engaged in discussions to make Bing the iPhone's default search engine, according to an online report. Although Microsoft has refused to confirm the rumor, porting Bing onto the iPhone would likely increase Microsoft's market share in the U.S. mobile search space, where it lags behind Google.
Apple is allegedly engaged in discussions with Microsoft to use Bing as the
iPhone's default search engine, according to a
Jan. 20 story published in BusinessWeek, which drew its information from
"two people familiar with the matter."
"Apple and Google know the other is their primary enemy," the
article quotes one of those unnamed sources as saying. "Microsoft is now a
pawn in that battle."
When reached for comment by eWEEK, a Microsoft spokesperson said that the
company "does not comment on rumors or speculation."
Should that scenario actually unfold, it will prove an indicator of the
growing competition between Apple and Google, whose search engine is currently
the iPhone default. Even before Google CEO
Eric Schmidt stepped down from Apple's board of directors in August 2009,
analysts and the blogosphere had been commenting on how the two companies were
increasingly pitted against one another in the smartphone operating-system
Porting Bing onto the iPhone would perhaps allow Microsoft to gain some
additional market share in the U.S.
mobile search space, which is currently dominated by Google. According to the
statistics site StatCounter, Google occupied some 95.26 percent of that market
as of Jan. 10; by contrast, Yahoo occupied 3.78 percent and Bing, 0.59 percent.
Apple and Google are predicted to compete more heartily in the smartphone
operating-system space in years to come, with research firm Gartner predicting
that Google Android will become the second-most-popular mobile OS in the world
by 2012, surpassing the iPhone.
Recent numbers produced by Nielsen are slightly different, pegging Bing at
11 percent of the mobile search market and Google at 86 percent.
Microsoft's own mobile operating system, Windows Mobile, is facing declining
market share despite the October 2009 release of Mobile
6.5, which was supposed to stop that erosion with features such as improved
touch capability. Although rumors circulated earlier in January that the
company would debut Windows Mobile 7 at February's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona,
subsequent scuttlebutt has suggested that Microsoft will offer a new version of
Mobile 6.x instead.
"We're going to have some new things that we'll talk about at Mobile
World Congress," Robbie
Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division, said during
a press conference at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
"When you look at the product, I'm sort of like, I have the luxury of
having seen it, to be able to look at it and played with it a little bit, but
I'm certainly confident people are going to see it as something
By not mentioning the name of that "product," however, Bach seemed
to give himself wiggle room for whatever Microsoft may choose to show in Barcelona.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.