Microsoft is in talks with Apple to make the scrappy Bing search engine – successor to the long-ailing Live Search – the default search engine on the iPhone's Safari browser. That's the rumor today from Business Week, and if true, it would highlight increased strains between Apple and Google, the reigning search king.
Today, the iPhone comes equipped with a Safari browser, which uses Google as its default search tool. Although users can download alternate search applications – Microsoft makes a Bing app for the iPhone, for instance – many iPhone owners stick with the default search option. That's a lot of fingers typing a lot of search queries, which is very good news for Google.
If Microsoft does manage to talk its way onto the iPhone, Bing could conceivably steal users from Google, and benefit from a surge in traffic. How much traffic? It depends. Over at PC World, Ian Paul says Google would feel "some minor financial pain":
AdMob, a mobile advertising network that Google recently offered to buy for $750 million in stock, routinely says the iPhone and iPod Touch are the two leading devices for U.S.-based mobile search queries. So unless iPhone and iPod Touch users manually switch their browser's default search engine back to Google, the search giant will probably lose some ground in mobile searches. However, even though many predict a big future for Internet-capable mobile devices, the fact is the vast majority of Google's search traffic still comes from desktop and laptop PCs.
Bing was launched last May at the All Things Digital conference. Early reviews were good, and a major multimedia campaign helped put Bing on the public radar. Still, Microsoft's search engine lags far behind Google – a gap Bing is unlikely to close anytime soon. A boost from the iPhone could be a big help.
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