Motorola March 10 said it has chosen Microsoft Bing search and maps to run on Google Android-based smartphones in China this year.
The partnership will manifest in a pre-loaded Bing bookmark and a new search widget with Bing, all running in the mobile browser of forthcoming Android-based gadgets in China. Microsoft search and maps capabilities will also be available for existing Android devices as over-the-air updates in the first quarter, Motorola said.
The deal should help Bing, which has grown Microsoft's search share from around 8 percent to 11.5 percent since launching in June 2009, largely at the expense of Yahoo. Google retains a 65.5 percent search-share hold.
The move also comes as Google is mulling whether to pull out of China in the wake of a hack on its servers that exposed information in some users' Gmail accounts. Google has threatened to cease censoring Google.cn, but may exit business operations in the country entirely if it can't come to terms with the Chinese government.
Google has already delayed the launch of Android phones there. This prolonged delay could negatively impact carriers and device makers counting on phone sales. Motorola, which is betting the company on Android, noted in a press release:
"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."
"Motorola and Microsoft have enjoyed a longstanding collaboration and the addition of Bing services to our Android-based smartphones in China is another important step in empowering our end-users," added Christy Wyatt, corporate vice president of software and services, Motorola Mobile Devices.
Perhaps, but the play may also signal the continuation of a catty trend for Motorola.
Many industry watchers believe Motorola felt spurned when Google launched the Nexus One Jan. 5, less than two months after the phone maker poured millions of dollars into marketing the Motorola Droid, which sold hundreds of thousands of units during the holiday shopping season.
A few weeks later, Motorola began letting consumers in China use Baidu instead of Google on Android phones. Extending this practice to the United States, Motorola launched the Backflip March 7 with Yahoo as the default search provider.
In a spell of turn-about-is-fair play, T-Mobile replaced Yahoo with Google as its default search engine on mobile phones such as RIM BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices.
Default search deals are lucrative. Bing secured the default search slot for phones offered by No. 1 U.S. wireless network Verizon Wireless in January 2009 for $500 million.