Microsoft is expanding the reach of its Bing for Mobile Android app to all major U.S. mobile operators, even as it gears up its own Windows Phone 7 platform for battle against Google Android.
"Since the launch of the Bing for Mobile Android App in the Verizon Wireless Android Market, many of you asked when the Bing App will be available from your own operators," reads the Nov. 11 posting on the Bing Community blog. "We are pleased to announce that we have just released the Bing App to all major U.S. mobile operators through Android Markets."
Microsoft's Verizon release of the Bing for Mobile Android app came nearly six months after it launched a similar app for the iPhone. The app offers quick-access maps with listings of local businesses, a Favorites option, and "instant answers" for movie listings and flights. A mic option on the app's homepage allows for voice search.
Microsoft reportedly paid $500 million to integrate Bing onto Verizon smartphones and feature phones. That deal, originally announced in January 2009, gives customer access to voice and typed queries, and location-aware searches.
"As we highlighted in August," adds the Nov. 11 posting, "Android users can find the Bing image of the day with clickable hotspots, image search, news, local business listings and reviews, instant answers for movies, flights ... and more."
Some 200,000 Android headsets ship daily, with popular models such as the Droid X and Samsung Galaxy S. That represents a growing and vital market for Microsoft's software, even as it tries to match Android with its own Windows Phone 7.
A new report from research firm Gartner suggests that, in the 12 months leading to the third quarter, Android saw its market share rise from 3.5 percent to 25.5 percent. By contrast, Microsoft's tumbled from 7.9 percent to 2.9 percent.
"This quarter saw Apple and Android drive record smartphone sales," Carolina Milanesi, a research vice president at Gartner, wrote in a Nov. 10 research note. "Apple's share of the smartphone market surpassed Research In Motion (RIM) in North America to put it second behind Android while Android volumes grew rapidly making it the No. 2 operating system worldwide."
Microsoft hopes Windows Phone 7, launched in the U.S. market Nov. 8 on both AT&T and T-Mobile, will reverse the decline. TheStreet.com reported 40,000 device sales during that first day of release. Although neither Microsoft nor its carriers seem willing just yet to offer definitive sales numbers of their own, the general consensus is that the platform faces a drawn-out battle against both the iPhone and Android.