Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Microsoft Talking to Apple About Being a Search Option on the iPhone, Not Google Replacement

Correcting yet another too-early rumor, sources tell BoomTown that–as has been previously reported many times in many places–Microsoft and Apple are in long-term talks about adding the Bing search service as a prominent option on the iPhone and not as a replacement of Google.

Currently, Google (GOOG) is the default search on the popular mobile device, although you can easily go into its settings and switch the search option to Yahoo (YHOO). Few consumers do, though.

Microsoft (MSFT) has been angling to be added to the search options for a long time, but has wanted to do so in a way that makes the choice more visible.

And it is probably a good idea to give users of the iPhone more choice in a wide range of services.

But, whether Apple would make Microsoft’s Bing the default or whether it would simply allow iPhone users more of a choice among search services is unclear.

In addition, Microsoft wants to make its Bing mapping more integrated with the Apple (AAPL) iPhone.

“Being an option is what’s on the table,” said one source briefed on the talks. “That’s all for now, although who knows where it could lead?”

But, cautioned several sources, talks are not complete, even though the software giant is eager to be able to announce such a deal at Apple’s upcoming developers conference on June 7.

Microsoft execs have been nervous about completing such a deal, especially because Apple is notoriously secretive and is known to end talks due to leaks.

That said, relations between Apple and Google have become increasingly tense, as their product offerings–especially in the mobile arena–have become competitive.

Google was one of Apple’s principal partners on the iPhone upon its launch and its services are prominent on the device.

But, as the device has evolved, sources say Apple has been considering a number of search options, as well as mapping, for the iPhone.

Google execs have been anticipating this, of course, especially as the search giant has pushed development of its Android mobile operating system.

In fact, a recent developers conference that Google had in San Francisco, its top execs spent a lot of time publicly attacking Apple.

Thus, it is likely that its top-level placement on the iPhone and other Apple products will diminish.

While being an option is not the same as completely replacing Google, it would give Bing a well-known platform to show off its technology to consumers.

Microsoft would like to hip-check Google off of the iPhone, of course.

But like rumors that it would pay News Corp. (NWS) to “de-index” its content from Google and display it prominently on Bing, the notion is premature.

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— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post