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Bing vs. Google: The Battle for Apple’s Default Search Engine

Bing could have become the default search engine for iPhones. Discussions indeed took place between Microsoft and Apple in 2020. Google is the default search engine for all Apple products. However, this could have changed in 2020. In an article published on September 28, 2023, Bloomberg revealed that executives from Microsoft and Apple had discussed the purchase of Bing in 2020.

Apple and Microsoft, a Partnership Thwarted by Google

Before diving into the topic, a quick reminder: Bing was already the default on iOS and iPadOS. Microsoft’s search engine powered Siri and Spotlight search results from 2013 to 2017. However, Microsoft failed to make this partnership lasting or expand it.

Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman reveals that in 2016, Microsoft tried to strike a deal with Apple to have Bing replace Google as the default search engine for Safari on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The timing was significant, as Apple was negotiating with Google at the time to renew their lucrative agreement.

Unfortunately, Microsoft couldn’t sway Apple with Bing. Moreover, Apple decided to replace Bing with Google for Siri and Spotlight searches.

A Sale That Fizzled Out Bloomberg explains that a new round of negotiations took place in 2020 between Apple and Microsoft. Specifically, Microsoft executives met with Apple’s vice president of services to “discuss the possibility of acquiring Bing.”

According to the media, the discussions never reached an advanced stage and were only “exploratory.” Bloomberg notes that Apple had “concerns about Bing’s ability to compete with Google in terms of quality and capabilities.”

Prioritizing Google is also a way for Apple to secure a significant source of revenue. To recall, Apple reportedly earns between 4 and 7 billion dollars annually by taking a share of Google’s advertising revenue from searches on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

In the context of the antitrust lawsuit between Google and the U.S. Department of Justice, Apple’s vice president, Eddy Cue, stated “We made Google the default search engine because we’ve always thought it was the best.” Apple’s executive also emphasized that the partnership with Google continues because there is “no viable alternative” in the search engine market.

A Change in Strategy Related to AI?

Now it remains to be seen how Apple will respond to the rise of artificial intelligence. The introduction of ChatGPT into Microsoft’s search engine late last year could shake things up in future negotiations. Apple and Google are currently lagging behind in this regard and remain rather discreet, if not silent, about their conversational agent capabilities.


However, Microsoft doesn’t intend to wait to gain ground with its search engine. Bing, equipped with ChatGPT, is already available on iPhone and iPad through an application and is also set to arrive on Safari and Chrome.

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