Editorial

Bing is Kindle's default search; is Apple next?

So, Bing is going to be the default search engine on Amazon's upcoming Kindle Fire devices. Obviously, it's also going to be the default provider on a slew of upcoming Windows 8 devices. That's a formidable army of mobile devices ready to fight alongside Bing in its battle for mobile marketshare, but there's one big player that's missing from the mix: Apple.

Bing has been a search option on the iPhone for years now, but even as Apple ditches all the other Google products embedded in their iOS devices, Google search remains as the default option in Safari. Considering just how nasty the battle between Cupertino and Mountain View has gotten recently, what are the chances that ditching Google search for Bing will be Apple's next move? I think they're pretty good, since it has benefits to offer for everyone - except for Google, of course.

Microsoft's benefits are pretty obvious. Even though Windows Phone is struggling to gain marketshare against both Apple and Google, aligning Bing with Apple would give Microsoft a massive chunk of mobile search marketshare. Apple, of course, gets another chance to stick it to Google, and maybe even make a few extra billion, if Microsoft is willing to outspend Google for top billing on Safari.

Don't kid yourself - making Bing the default search engine on iOS devices would be one of the biggest blows that Apple could give Google. The fact is that the majority of users are going to stick with whatever is provided on their device, and losing a huge chunk of iPhone and iPad users would be very painful indeed to Google, especially considering that the iPhone is more lucrative for them beyond than their own Android devices.

Apple + Microsoft: BFFs?

And what about the downsides? I'm not really seeing those, but I'll admit that I'm a Bing fan, so maybe I'm a little biased.

Bing works great at this point. I can't imagine that Apple would be afraid of alienating its users by making Bing default, and if you don't believe me, head over to Microsoft's new Bing It On website and compare the search results. I'm pretty confident that you'll end up having trouble distinguishing between them, or outright prefer Bing in many cases. Add in the great user experience and connected services that Bing has to offer, and Microsoft has a real winner in the search market.

The only real worry that I can imagine Apple having here is in regards to getting cozy with another competitor. It's already bitter over what happened with Google, and it's possible that they're going to be paranoid about repeating that with their old nemesis, Microsoft. On the other hand, Apple and Microsoft have worked pretty closely together in recent years, drawn together by the common foe represented by Google. Whether it's relying on Microsoft services, or praising them for not stealing their ideas, Apple is on far better terms with Microsoft than Google these days.

So, will Apple overcome any potential worries that they might have and take the plunge, making Bing the default search engine on its devices? Honestly, I don't know. I certainly hope so, because I love Bing, and because I know that the search market really needs more competition right now. One thing is for sure: it makes sense that this could be Apple's next move against Google, and you can bet that Microsoft is just dying for the chance to give Bing top billing on Apple's devices.

Image by Jatin from WinMatrix.com (note: due to a mistake, the original version of this article did not give proper credit for this image)

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39 Comments

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The downside of using Bing is that it sucks. I try to use it from time to time, just to see if I can get better results than Google.
Bing has a nice design, nice features and all, but search results are nowhere near Google's. And don't start on the poor support for other languages / regions.

I wont be using Bing on an Apple device. NO way. I wont be using Bing at all, ever. MS can keep their 'me too' search engine for people who dont know any better.

derekaw said,
I wont be using Bing on an Apple device. NO way. I wont be using Bing at all, ever. MS can keep their 'me too' search engine for people who dont know any better.

Just remember that Google didn't create the search engine. They just did it better than the ones who came before them. Microsoft has just as much right to do the same thing. In fact, that's pretty much how the tech industry works.

I use Both. I find that for some general searches, Bing is alright, but I always seem to get better results with Google (mostly software engineering-related searches).

All kindles have advertising, wanna bet Amazon got money to put bing on, thereby reducing the cost a little bit more?

It'd be hilarious if Apple threw a curveball and picked up a relic like HotBot as their search provider. HotBot can be like Siri's boyfriend.

The logical thing to do firstly would be to add Bing as an option in iOS 6, and in the next release of Safari (if it isn't already) and see what the take up/performance is like.

singularity87 said,
The logical thing to do firstly would be to add Bing as an option in iOS 6, and in the next release of Safari (if it isn't already) and see what the take up/performance is like.

Bing has been an option for a couple of years now, it's been my default ever since

singularity87 said,
The logical thing to do firstly would be to add Bing as an option in iOS 6, and in the next release of Safari (if it isn't already) and see what the take up/performance is like.
Bing and Yahoo have, at least in Canada, been there since Apple gave you the choice a few years ago.

JessJess said,
Good. A small step on the road to ending Google's domination of search. They think they are untouchable.
They are, resistance is futile.

Looks like everybody is afraid of the army of Google...even up to some extent of kissing enemy's arse just to get rid the new guy on the block

digitheatre said,
Looks like everybody is afraid of the army of Google...even up to some extent of kissing enemy's arse just to get rid the new guy on the block

More like they're trying to take down the marketleader. It's nothing new, Google has put a lot of effort into killing Internet Explorer in Europe as well (with succes I might add). On the search market, Google is king so they're the target.

Apple and Microsoft have a long history together, they've made a lot of deals over the years. Microsoft even saved Apple once. And only a while ago they made a new patent-deal.

Having said that, I doubt Apple will use Bing. It's not good enough in many places around the world.

Setting Bing as the default search engine is possible only in the US and a few other countries. For the rest of the world Bing is useless.

Palpatine said,
Setting Bing as the default search engine is possible only in the US and a few other countries. For the rest of the world Bing is useless.

Sad but true. The Bing search button is the only thing I dislike on my Windows Phone. It's useless to me. I tried using Bing but there are just a lot less results then on Google and the results are too generic. Google is miles ahead for me (here in the Netherlands).

I had hoped that in WP8 the search button would function like the search charm in Windows 8, making it search in whatever app you've got opened. Unfortunatly this is not the case. Hopefully they'll let me customize the search button so I can atleast add Google to it. I love my Windows Phone but Bing just isn't good over here.

Ronnet said,

Sad but true. The Bing search button is the only thing I dislike on my Windows Phone. It's useless to me. I tried using Bing but there are just a lot less results then on Google and the results are too generic. Google is miles ahead for me (here in the Netherlands).

I had hoped that in WP8 the search button would function like the search charm in Windows 8, making it search in whatever app you've got opened. Unfortunatly this is not the case. Hopefully they'll let me customize the search button so I can atleast add Google to it. I love my Windows Phone but Bing just isn't good over here.

I live in Australia and I use Bing from my WP7 frequently. If this were a few years ago I would agree but the content and accuracy is usually better than google now.

Palpatine said,
Setting Bing as the default search engine is possible only in the US and a few other countries. For the rest of the world Bing is useless.

Well I haven't used the US one so I can't say for that but even looking for English sites on bing.com gives crappy results compared to google or even duckduckgo.

as147 said,

I live in Australia and I use Bing from my WP7 frequently. If this were a few years ago I would agree but the content and accuracy is usually better than google now.

In aussieland it might be better.
But as he said, he is dutch, and so am I. And Bing is indeed... terrible, just godafwull terrible.
One example, I want bing maps, as its better then google maps imho (much smoother in transitions) and I enter 'maps' in bing. There is NO, absolute NO Bing maps to be found on the first page!
First links is Google maps for crying out loud.

Actually, since last year Apple was working toward making the default search Siri. And it is being improved and extended with iOS 6 on Wednesday.

Doing a Web search using Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. give you Web pages with multiple links to sort through, and figure out which link will answer you inquiry best, Siri goes directly to the appropriate service (for example Wolfram Alpha or Yelp) to get the specific information you need.

ViewRoyal said,
Actually, since last year Apple was working toward making the default search Siri. And it is being improved and extended with iOS 6 on Wednesday.

Doing a Web search using Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. give you Web pages with multiple links to sort through, and figure out which link will answer you inquiry best, Siri goes directly to the appropriate service (for example Wolfram Alpha or Yelp) to get the specific information you need.

Siri is a long ways from actually replacing web search. I like Siri, but it's got a totally different usage scenario than web search. And in some cases Siri needs web search to function.. Siri can get us facts, but web search can give us resources.

Making vast improvements to Bing outside of the US would be nice to see but MS are slow on that front.

Apple is all about the out of the box experience that works, don't think Bing fits that enough at this moment in time.

WooHoo!!! said,

Apple is all about the out of the box experience that works, don't think Bing fits that enough at this moment in time.

In the US market, I think it does. Remember that they don't necessarily have to provide the same default search worldwide, as I think there are already some options (not defaults, though) that are only available in certain countries, like Baidu in China.

First, Apple isn't ditching Google Services, but their original agreement between Apple and Google is set to expire, so Apple will no longer by making and maintaining their apps themselves.. And this is good, cause ones like the YouTube app were feature lacking.. this gives Google a change to build a better one.

That said, I would expect the future of Google as the default search engine to be dependent on how the talks between Google and Apple go now over their patent desputes.. If they come to an understanding, or at least are making progress, I don't see Apple as talking any moves. If things turn nasty, and become a slugfest in the courts, then I could see it..
Then again, Apple is at war with Samsung, as is still one of Samsungs biggest hardware partners.. so who knows.

As for me, I'd be fine with Bing being default WHEN Microsoft finally makes the international Bing sites not suck so much.. In the US Bing is great, but leave the US and it's just the old Windows Live Search crap results with a different CSS style.

This could be just Apple angling to get Google to stump up more $$ for a renewal of the default browser agreement.

as147 said,
This could be just Apple angling to get Google to stump up more $$ for a renewal of the default browser agreement.
I could be wrong, but I don't believe Google ever paid Apple for that right... and I'm not sure Apple would want to be contractually obligated to set an engine by default incase there are issues in the future..

That was rumoured to happen last year too. May be, it will finally happen this year.


And Microsoft can outspent Google, because they have a bigger cash pile.

.Neo said,
God I hope not. On my Lumia 900 I never get the results I want using Bing.

What sort of things are you searching for, if you don't mind me asking? I almost always get it at the top of the front page. The only time I have to dig deeper or use something different is when I'm searching for something really, really bizarre (like, say, a microprocessor serial number from 1975).

THolman said,
What sort of things are you searching for, if you don't mind me asking?

I haven't kept a list. Mainstream stuff. Where's a certain store, where can I find this or that, etc.

.Neo said,

I haven't kept a list. Mainstream stuff. Where's a certain store, where can I find this or that, etc.

Huh, that's odd, usually does it for me

.Neo said,
God I hope not. On my Lumia 900 I never get the results I want using Bing.

Agreed, I've never once found Bing to give me better results than Google. You get less results, including less ones that are actually relevant. It seems even more terrible when I ask it questions.

.Neo said,

I haven't kept a list. Mainstream stuff. Where's a certain store, where can I find this or that, etc.

It's my understanding that Bing isn't as good outside the US.

.Neo said,
God I hope not. On my Lumia 900 I never get the results I want using Bing.

Hmm, I always get exactly what I need on mine.
When I first got the phone, I tested my searches on both engines and figured out that both deliver pretty much the same results.

Enron said,

It's my understanding that Bing isn't as good outside the US.

Ahh, that explains it. I've heard a lot of people say how good Bing is, but i've always found it to be moderately awful in the UK.

.Neo said,
God I hope not. On my Lumia 900 I never get the results I want using Bing.

I will only use a search engine that gives me the best results. 9/10 Bing does that so its my default. The odd time I need something else I use google. I think Bing on the Kindle Fire will look stunning in comparison to the bland blank google search page. Those daily Bing images will make the result look great on colour display on the Kindle Fire.

.Neo said,
God I hope not. On my Lumia 900 I never get the results I want using Bing.

I call BS, I live outside the US and Bing has never let me down, the results are almost the same as Google.

Toysoldier said,

I call BS, I live outside the US and Bing has never let me down, the results are almost the same as Google.

Bing search results might be good but Bing maps outside of USA is definately not as good as Google maps.

Since he's talking about finding stores and such i guess Bing maps is involved and the problem might definately be there.

http://goo.gl/maps/BGIyl

http://binged.it/QzAqxn

I see a big difference between the two ...

Bing Maps will return nothing if you search for Hôtel Bon Gîte. Bing itself will actually return useful informations.

Edited by LaP, Sep 10 2012, 3:04pm :