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An abandoned Apple-Microsoft deal is now making trouble for Google

Microsoft reportedly tried selling Bing to Apple. The deal would have booted Google Search out of iPhones.

Published onSeptember 29, 2023

Stock photo of Bing logo on phone
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
  • Microsoft reportedly tried selling Bing to Apple in 2020.
  • However, Apple chose Google as its preferred search engine partner for iPhones, iPads, and other products.
  • The US Department of Justice is using Google’s deal with Apple to show how the former unfairly dominates the search engine landscape.

Microsoft was reportedly in talks with Apple to sell Bing to the iPhone maker. According to Bloomberg, Microsoft executives met Apple’s services head, Eddy Cue, in 2020 to pitch Bing to the Cupertino company. If the deal had gotten through, Bing could have replaced Google as the default search engine in Safari, Siri, and everywhere else Apple uses search.

Talks between Microsoft and Apple were said to be exploratory in nature. The two companies never reached advanced negotiations for Bing. However, Microsoft reportedly tried time and again to convince Apple to use Bing instead of Google Search on its products. Apple seemingly stuck with Google because of the billions it pays the company to use Google Search on iPhones, iPads, and other Apple products.

The revelation is significant given Google is facing a historic antitrust lawsuit in the US for monopolizing search and search advertising. The complaint from the Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges that Google engaged in a course of anticompetitive and exclusionary conduct to eliminate competition.

According to the DOJ, Apple was making $4-$7 billion from its search deal with Google by 2020, when Microsoft proposed the Bing buyout. The money Apple banked from Google is reportedly the reason why it declined Microsoft’s offer to acquire Bing.

Little did Apple know at the time that Bing was going to lead generative AI adoption. The new Bing Chat feature in Microsoft’s search engine pushed it past 100 million daily active users for the first time this year. Bing still commands a fraction of the search business, though. According to Statcounter, Bing’s desktop search market share stands at around 8.6% compared to mammoth Google’s 84.8% stake.

Apple and Google’s deal was extended in 2021. In his testimony earlier this week, Apple’s Eddy Cue implied that the company did not think Bing’s technology was up to the mark compared to Google’s back when the buyout was proposed. The executive said Apple has kept its search deal with Google because it’s the best option available.

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