Microsoft’s Bing has been added to the iPhone, Apple announced during its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) on June 7, joining Google and Yahoo.
“Microsoft has done a real nice job on this,” Jobs reportedly told the audience during his keynote address, according to live blogs of the event. However, Google will remain the default search engine.
Earlier this year, rumors circulated that Microsoft and Apple were in discussions over making Bing the iPhone’s default search engine. “Apple and Google know the other is their primary enemy,” an unnamed source “familiar with the matter” told BusinessWeek on Jan. 20. “Microsoft is now a pawn in that battle.”
When previously contacted for confirmation of those talks, a Microsoft spokesperson said that the company “does not comment on rumors or speculation.”
Porting Bing onto the iPhone will likely allow Microsoft to gain some additional market share in the mobile search-engine space, which is currently dominated by Google. According to analytics firm StatCounter, Google occupied some 97.83 percent of the global mobile search-engine market by June 7, with Yahoo claiming 1.19 percent and Bing following in third with 0.38 percent. In the United States, those numbers were virtually identical: Google held 97 percent, followed by Yahoo with 1.9 percent and Bing with 0.75 percent.
Other firms have presented a somewhat cheerier outlook, with Nielsen estimating at the beginning of the year that around 86 percent of U.S. mobile searchers used Google, followed by 11 percent for Bing.
Even before Google CEO Eric Schmidt stepped down from Apple’s board of directors in August 2009, Apple and Google seemed pitted to do battle in the smartphone arena. Research firm Gartner has predicted that Google Android will become the second-most-popular mobile OS in the world by 2010, surpassing the iPhone, and the operating system has already seen its market share rise on a tide of devices from HTC and other manufacturers. That sort of competitive prospect could very well have Jobs, along with his executive team, searching for any way to blunt Google’s momentum.
For its part, Microsoft has recognized the importance of expanding its Bing brand onto the popular iPhone platform. As far back as August 2009, the company delivered a Bing iPhone and Mac software development kit (SDK) for download on its CodePlex community development site. That SDK provided the ability to easily query Bing from within a Cocoa or Cocoa Touch application, perform synchronous and asynchronous queries, and search Bing for Web, Image, Video, News and Phonebook results.
During a talk at AllThingsDigital’s D8 conference on June 1, Jobs dismissed ideas of launching Apple into the search-engine arena. “We have no plans to go into the search business,” he told an audience. “We don’t care about it-other people do it well.” His intention, it seems, is to let Microsoft and Google battle for mobile dominance, although Apple’s recent purchase of semantic search company Siri suggests that another game may be afoot, despite those denials.