According to a report from Bloomberg, executives from Microsoft and Apple met in 2020 to discuss a potential sale of Bing. However, the talks did not progress beyond the exploratory phase, suggesting that Apple’s top brass, including Eddy Cue, did not seriously pursue the idea. Testimony in the ongoing FTC antitrust suit against Google revealed that Apple has never considered replacing Google as the default search engine on iPhones. Microsoft believes that Apple has only entertained the possibility to extract more money from Google. The existing lucrative arrangement between Apple and Google was a key factor in keeping things as they were, despite Apple’s concerns about Bing’s ability to compete with Google in quality and capabilities.
Apple is estimated to earn over $20 billion annually as part of the agreement that keeps Google as the default search engine on iOS and iPadOS. While some argue that switching the iPhone’s default search engine is inconvenient, it is a fairly simple process that only requires a few taps in the settings menu. This highlights how rarely consumers deviate from the default option. Bing had opportunities in the past, being the default for Siri and Spotlight searches for a few years, but Apple never fully transitioned to Bing. There were discussions between Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in 2016 for a potential new deal, but it did not materialize.
Apple and Google recently extended their agreement in 2021, suggesting that Microsoft’s pitch in the previous year was an attempt to disrupt the renewal plans. However, it seems that Microsoft’s efforts did not succeed in changing the status quo.