• Apple Opening Up to Bing

    Apple and Microsoft are in talks to open access to Bing search in iPhone OS 4, sources supposedly "close to the matter" are saying. The negotiations - which had been widely rumored back in January of this year - apparently don't involve Bing completely supplanting Google as the search method on iPhone OS device, but rather as an additional option. The report comes amid a swirl of rumors surrounding Apple reaching out to its historic enemy Microsoft in its war against Google.

    Reports in TechCrunch and the Wall Street Journal over the past 24 hours have given differing accounts of the matter under discussion. TechCrunch's Michael Arrington had initially reported that Apple intended to drop Google entirely and use Bing for iPhone OS search, saying that his "sources close to Google were freely reporting this as fact." The Wall Street Journal's Kara Swisher flatly contradicted this on her BoomTown blog, saying that the long-term talks were about making Bing "a prominent option on the iPhone and not as a replacement of Google" (emphasis in the original). Arrington later updated his post, reporting that his "new sources are saying 'It’s more complicated than this' and not to expect Google search to be removed from the iPhone."

    Talks between Microsoft and Apple were first reported earlier this year, and the story at that time was that Apple was interested in changing entirely from Google to Bing. TechCrunch's Arrington had previously communicated his sources' reports about "informal discussions with Apple" where the manufacturer "expressed dismay at the number of core iPhone apps that are powered by Google," further stating that "Search, [M]aps, YouTube, and other key popular apps are powered by Google." The phrase "powered by" is somewhat loaded: the apps do make use of open APIs provided by Google, but as AppleInsider notes, those apps were all developed by Apple.

    Including Bing as a user-configurable option would allow Apple to be more independent of Google moving forward. It would also offer benefits to Microsoft, which is trying to get broader acceptance of its search engine. Last year, a study showed that 86% of smartphone users searched with Google and only 11% used Bing. But this all could be a mere holding action: persistent reports have indicated that Apple has a "skunkworks" at One Infinite Loop developing its own search engine to directly compete with Google.
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