Microsoft reportedly discussed selling Bing to Apple in 2020
Microsoft wanted to sell its Bing search engine to Apple in 2020. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has revealed some interesting details about a deal that would have seen Bing replace Google as the default search engine on Apple's devices.
As you may know, the Department of Justice dragged Google to the court in an antitrust case, accusing the Mountain View company of gaining an unfair foothold across various platforms, i.e. web browsers and smartphones, by making deals with manufacturers and browser vendors.
Per an agreement between the two tech giants, Apple earns billions of dollars from Google, in order to make the latter's search engine as the default option on iOS, iPadOS and macOS. The partnership between the two companies is not new, the first deal between the two giants dates back to 2002.
Google has been the default search engine in Safari, Siri and Spotlight for many years. However, it wasn't always the case, Microsoft Bing was used as the default search engine in Siri and Spotlight from 2013 to 2017. Apple eventually reverted to Google in 2017, while retaining Bing as an option in Safari.
DuckDuckGo's CEO, Gabriel Weinberg, had told the court that it takes too many steps to switch search engines on iOS. You need to navigate to the Settings > Safari > Search > and select the search engine. While that is not a lot of steps, he makes a good point. Not many users will be aware of the place to find the setting, let alone take the action to switch the search engine. This also gives Google a slight edge over the other options.
The DOJ said that Apple was earning $4 billion to $7 billion from Google annually (in 2020). U.S. antitrust regulars have deemed this deal as an anticompetitive one that undermines other search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, etc. However, Apple’s senior vice president of Services, defended it by saying that the deal benefits users as there was no proper alternative, i.e. no other search engine offers the quality of search results that Google provides. He even mentioned that Apple did not consider developing its own search engine because Google is the best option.
Microsoft wanted to sell Bing to Apple in 2020
Eddy Cue, had met with executives from Microsoft, to discuss the acquisition of Bing. The talks however did not make progress, even though both companies have continued exploring other ways to replace Google with Bing. Cue had been instrumental in brokering the search deal between Apple and Google, and helped the companies extend the partnership in 2021.
This wasn't the first time Microsoft and Apple had discussed about Bing. Microsoft business development executive, Jon Tinter, had said that the Redmond company considered outspending Google by making a multi-billion dollar investment in 2016. The CEO's of both companies, Tim Cook and Satya Nadella, had even met to discuss the deal, which ultimately fell through.
According to Gurman's sources, the profits that Apple earned from Google's deal was an important reason for declining the to acquire Bing from Microsoft in 2020. Mikhail Parakhin, Microsoft’s chief of advertising and web services, told the U.S. District Court in Washington, "It is no secret that Apple is making more money on Bing existing than Bing does." (via APNews)
Cue had said that he didn't know what Apple would have done if negotiations with Google had failed, by which he had implied that Bing's quality was inferior to its rival search engine.
Even if Apple had been successful in acquiring Bing, it wouldn't have slapped a new sticker on it and rebranded it as its own search engine right away. Apple is known to use new technologies from companies that it acquired to recreate a feature or service.
Microsoft Bing has improved in the past year, ever since the rise of A.I. tech such as ChatGPT. The A.I-powered Bing Chat shows potential to rival Google. It's about time Google faced some real competition. Apple is rumored to be working on its own A.I. tech as well.Advertisement