There’s plenty of excitement around reports that Microsoft is negotiating with Apple to make its Bing search technology the default on iPhones, and for good reason.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Microsoft have been “frenemies” for decades — a pair of dynamic companies engaged in sometimes not-so-friendly coopetition. What’s more, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) holds a privileged position as the default search engine client that comes with Apple’s iPhones.
However, one analyst says it’s hard to infer a lot from what is known so far from a BusinessWeek report that claims the two are already in talks to have Bing supplant Google.
“Contracts have expiration dates, and Apple looks for the best deal,” Matt Rosoff, research vice president for consumer and corporate affairs at Directions on Microsoft, told InternetNews.com.
Of course, there’s the matter of Google’s CEO quitting Apple’s board of directors in August, a move that came on the heels of growing competition between some businesses of Apple’s — like the iPhone — and Google’s, which backs the Android mobile OS and this month began selling its own smartphone, the Nexus One, based on the software.
Additionally, there’s already at least some synergy between Apple and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) on the iPhone: Apple offers a free Microsoft Bing client through its App Store.
Given the dynamics, it should come as no surprise that Microsoft and Apple are negotiating, Rosoff said. Perhaps Apple sees Microsoft’s poor showing for its Windows Mobile smartphone operating system as an opportunity.
“Maybe Apple views Google as more of a threat than Microsoft … Apple’s not going to build its own search engine, so it could be a way for Apple to negotiate with Google,” Rosoff added.
For Microsoft, the goal is fairly transparent — attracting more searches to Bing, which launched at the beginning of June.
“I’m sure that Microsoft is talking to Apple,” Rosoff said, although he cautioned that he has no special knowledge of such talks and called his musings “speculation.'”
A Google spokesperson could not be reached by press time.
As for Apple and Microsoft, neither appears to indicating publicly whether discussions are indeed going on.
“Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. Apple representatives did not return a call requesting comment.