Microsoft Offered to Sell Bing to Apple as Google Alternative

Your default search engine on the iPhone could have been Microsoft’s Bing, according to Bloomberg.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Microsoft engaged in preliminary discussions with Apple in 2020 about the possibility of selling its Bing search engine, reports Bloomberg. The talks involved Apple’s services chief, Eddy Cue, who is also responsible for the company’s existing search engine partnership with Google. The discussions were exploratory in nature and did not progress to advanced stages.

The timing of these talks gains importance as the U.S. Department of Justice is currently embroiled in an antitrust lawsuit against Google, alleging abuse of search dominance. Apple’s longstanding relationship with Google, which pays billions for prime placement of its search engine on Apple devices, is a focal point in the case.

Bing, launched by Microsoft in 2009, has struggled to capture significant market share, accounting for less than 10% of searches. Google continues to dominate the search engine landscape. Apple and Microsoft are both testifying in the ongoing antitrust trial against Google. Eddy Cue, in his testimony, defended Apple’s choice of Google as its search engine, stating it was the best option available.

“Apple uses Google because it’s the best search option available,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s services chief. It’s too bad Apple’s Siri isn’t as good as Google’s Assistant–that would make voice queries magnitudes better.

Financial considerations also played a role in Apple’s decision not to acquire Bing. According to the Department of Justice, Apple earns between $4 billion and $7 billion annually from its search engine agreement with Google. The deal covers the Safari web browser across various Apple devices, and Apple receives a percentage of the revenue generated from Google searches on its browser.

Sources indicate that the revenue from the Google deal was a significant factor in Apple’s decision not to proceed with the Bing acquisition. Concerns were also raised about Bing’s ability to compete with Google in terms of quality and capabilities.

Apple has utilized Bing in the past, making it the default search engine for Siri and Spotlight between 2013 and 2017. However, the company reverted to Google in 2017 following an updated revenue-sharing agreement. Bing remains an optional search engine for Safari users.

In court testimony, Microsoft’s business development executive Jon Tinter revealed that Microsoft considered a multibillion-dollar investment in Apple in 2016 to make Bing the default search engine on Apple devices. CEOs Tim Cook and Satya Nadella had even met to discuss the potential deal. As of now, Google remains the default search engine on Apple devices, including Siri and Spotlight.

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