Apple and Microsoft: Together Again, on the iPhone?

By  |  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,, 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?


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3 Comments For This Post

  1. IcyFog Says:

    If this happens and if I can’t switch back to Google, then an iPhone is not for me.

  2. Simon Says:

    I can’t imagine not being able to switch back to Google, something I, along with lots of others, would be likely to do straight away.
    There are, I suspect, literally millions of happy iPhone users who are also happy users of Google services. We don’t really give a crap about the politics, we just want to use what we want how we want.

  3. Marc Says:

    They should let users choose. At the moment I have to use Google or Yahoo. I’m happy with Google, but having the option to try out Bing would be nice.

    Google have a more complete package for iPhone users, with Google Sync’s free push email and calendar service being miles better than the rivals, and Google Reader and Google News are being the web sites I visit most from my iPhone.

    What about Microsoft’s Hotmail? Will we see that as an option on the iPhone Mail setup page? We currently get an option for Exchange, Gmail, Mobile Me and Yahoo. Hotmail, is one of the most popular web mail services in the world, yet isn’t on the list. Sure it can be configured, but I’d imagine only technical people ever going to do it. So for the sake of the millions of iPhone users who use Hotmail, I hope they sort that out as well.

    Very interesting…