updated 09:50 am EST, Wed January 20, 2010
Growing split between Apple, Google
Apple is negotiating with Microsoft to replace the default search engine in the iPhone OS, two anonymous sources say. Discussions have been in progress for weeks, according to claims, and would potentially see Google swapped in favor of Bing. The positioning is an important one, as most mobile advertising is now viewed on iPhones and iPods, and people are more likely to use the default search option. To use Bing on Apple handhelds at the moment, people must either load the Bing app or visit bing.com.
The talks are explicitly connected to Apple's souring relationship with Google, says one source. "Apple and Google know the other is their primary enemy," the person comments. "Microsoft is now a pawn in that battle."
While Google has always been closely associated with the iPhone, through search and the Maps and YouTube apps, the companies have been split in the mobile realm by Google's development of the Android platform. Android is accessible to any phone maker, and devices based on the technology such as the Droid and the Nexus One are often seen as key iPhone rivals. Apple may have asked Google and HTC to drop multi-touch from the Nexus One in order to avoid patent infringement.
The sources also say that Apple is looking to manage ad placement on handhelds, and possibly even develop a search engine of its own. A "skunk works" has been organized to explore the latter possibility, says one source. "...if Apple does do a search deal with Microsoft, it's about buying itself time," the person notes. "Apple isn't going to outsource the future," the source adds, referring to Apple's interest in search and advertising, and in hampering Google.