By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 2:05 pm
Rumor has it that Apple may be in talks with Microsoft to displace Google as the iPhone’s default search engine with Bing. Fine by me as long as it’s possible for anyone who prefers Google to switch to it. And better still if Apple implements something like OpenSearch in iPhone Safari to let users choose Bing, Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, or any other engine they’ve got a liking for.
It’s always a tad jarring to think of Apple and Microsoft teaming up, but shouldn’t be–the two companies have collaborated in one way or another for even longer than they’ve been competitors. (That’s why I named them the #1 tech frenemies of all time.)
Despite the combative quality of some of the ads for Windows and for Macs, there’s a level on which the two companies are no longer archrivals. They’ve quietly divvied up the PC market: Microsoft’s operating system runs on most of the consumer computers priced under $1000 and most workplace machines; Apple sells most of the consumer computers priced at $1000 and above. As far as I can tell, both seem to nicely profitable based on the marketshare they’ve got.
And both Apple and Microsoft now have a common rival–I’m not going to use the word “enemy”–in Google. Google’s primary business is selling advertising against search results, a field in which Microsoft is playing catch-up and Apple doesn’t compete at all. But Google is jumping into multiple markets that are important to Apple and/or Microsoft: operating systems, phones, collaborative software, office suites, photos, and much more. Given that, I could see Apple preferring to work with Microsoft on iPhone search, and Microsoft being particularly keen on stealing away Google’s status as the iPhone’s default search.
I only care about this stuff when it impinges on my ability to use technology products from any of the companies in question in the way I’d like to–which seems to be the case with Google Voice and its continued unavailability on the iPhone. So while I’m okay with the prospect of Microsoft nudging Google out of its coveted spot on the iPhone, I want to see Apple and Google maintain some sort of relationship–detente, at least, instead of a cold war.
What’s your take?