The recently dispatched rumor du jour that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer would appear onstage at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference has been supplanted by new speculation.
Actually make that new, old speculation: Apple is going to replace Google as its default search engine for the iPhone with Microsoft's Bing:
So goes the latest theory from TechCrunch and it's a notion that settles in my stomach like last night's leftover refried beans. Oh, the stupid.... it burns!
"Microsoft Bing will replace Google in the next version of the iPhone operating system to be released in June, we've heard from multiple sources, including a high-level source who claims to have been briefed on the matter. We're not calling this more than a rumor yet, but one thing is sure - our sources close to Google in particular are speaking freely about this as fact."
Why would Apple do this? I'm all for the enemy of my enemy is my friend and all, but last I checked Microsoft isn't that powerful an enemy and if you ask the right people, the company is teetering toward irrelevance in mobile compared to the innovation of Apple's iPhone and Google's Android platforms. Why help Microsoft, the old enemy?
Hasn't Apple alienated enough people in recent months with its anticompetitive position over supporting native Google applications such as Google Voice and Google Latitude, and its reluctance to support Adobe's Flash?
Apple CEO Steve Jobs has said people don't search on their smartphones; they search within applications.
If this is true, then why risk alienating the millions of Google users by dumping the leading search engine for Bing if Apple really believes people aren't searching there anyway?
Then again, if Jobs really believes no one is searching, maybe he feels that people won't notice if Apple does make Bing the default.
I disagree in light of Google's data that it has seen a 5x increase in mobile searches in the past two years, and that search has picked up on smartphones in 2010.
What gain is there by switching? Sure, Apple would ding Google a bit, but the hatred the company would inspire over making users switch back to Google to search would outweigh the positive. Bing is making inroads, but not enough that most people would accept such a move.
I'd like to think Apple wouldn't do this to its users. Apple's iPhone and Google applications go well together. Separating them to hurt the other vendor would be foolish and I don't believe Apple would gain much from a competitive standpoint.
That could just push more users to Android, where Google is the default search on 60 smartphones and tablets and counting.
And note that TechCrunch backed away from its initial position with: "new sources are saying "It's more complicated than this" and not to expect Google search to be removed from the iPhone next month."
AllThingsDigital is reporting that Apple will actually offer Bing as a search option on the iPhone, which is far more credible and far less interesting.
What do you think? Would Apple pull such a drastic move as to yank Google for Bing? What gains do you see there?