Microsoft on Aug. 30 released an official Bing for Mobile Android App for customers of Verizon Wireless, an exclusive arrangement that underscores how Android has become a significant mobile platform to rival Apple’s iPhone.
Owners of Android-based smartphones such as the Motorola Droid, Droid 2, Droid X and the Droid Incredible can download the free application from the Verizon Wireless Marketplace.
Bing for Mobile Android comes several months after Microsoft launched its Bing for iPhone app, which has seen several iterations.
As Microsoft Watch noted, the Bing for Mobile Android offers quick-access maps with listings of local businesses, a Favorites option and instant answers for movie listings and flights.
There is also an image search feature with “endless scrolling results.” Users may easily swipe through image previews and click straight through to the image host site.
By clicking the mic option on the Bing app’s homepage, users can access voice search powered by Bing, not Google Voice Search, for a change.
“Our investment in voice search continues in our Android App and works great for searches like map locations as well as Web search,” said Bing for Mobile spokesman Andy Chu.
Chu added that Bing’s voice search works well for the aforementioned instant answers to movies, stock quotes, flights and local listings.
The app is the latest step in Microsoft’s $500 million deal to have Bing featured on Verizon smartphones and feature phones.
This pact was viewed as quite the coup when the companies announced it in January 2009.
The deal guaranteed customers could access voice and typed search queries, as well as location-aware searches to access maps, directions, traffic information, information on local businesses and other info from Microsoft Live Search, which has evolved to Bing.
Microsoft’s motivation to create Bing Mobile for Android is clear; Bing desperately needs to find purchase on as many desktops, laptops and mobile phones and tablets it can land on.
Some 200,000 Android handsets are shipping daily and the OS’ stock is rising against RIM BlackBerry and the iPhone. If Bing can get used on Android devices, it will acquire thousands of new users to search and see its ads.
The problem is that Google is omnipresent on the Droid devices Bing for Mobile Android is geared for. Each Droid comes with Google search, Google Maps (including turn-by-turn GPS navigation) and Google’s voice search applications by default.
Google users have proven very unwilling to switch to Bing to date. Google has retained its 65 percent hold on the U.S. search market. Google’s plot on mobile is believed to be higher.
What, then, is the motivation to use the Bing app?
Another problem Microsoft has with this deal is that by making it exclusive, the app can’t appear on Android devices outside of Verizon Wireless, ruling out availability on the HTC Evo 4G from Sprint and the class of Samsung Galaxy phones sold by AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.
Microsoft has said it expects to offer its Android app on handsets from other U.S. carriers in the future, according to GigaOm.