According to a report by Bloomberg, executives from Microsoft and Apple met in 2020 to discuss a potential sale of Bing to Apple. However, the talks did not progress beyond the exploratory phase, suggesting that Apple’s top brass, including Eddy Cue, never seriously pursued 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 raised the possibility to extract more money from Google to retain its spot. The lucrative arrangement between Apple and Google, which generates over $20 billion annually for Apple, was a major factor in keeping things as they were.
Apple reportedly had concerns about Bing’s ability to compete with Google in terms of quality and capabilities, aligning with Cue’s testimony that there wasn’t a valid alternative to Google at the time of the original deal and that no equal contender has emerged since. Despite Bing being the default search engine for Siri and Spotlight searches for several years, Apple never fully transitioned to Bing and always maintained the status quo of Google search results that customers expected. In 2016, there were meetings between Tim Cook and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella for a potential new deal that could have brought monumental change, but it did not materialize. Apple and Google recently extended their deal in 2021, suggesting that Microsoft’s pitch the year before was an attempt to disrupt those renewal plans.
In conclusion, the report highlights that while discussions between Microsoft and Apple took place regarding a possible sale of Bing, they did not progress beyond the exploratory phase. Apple’s primary motivation for considering alternatives to Google as the default search engine on iPhones was speculated to be extracting more financial concessions from Google. The lucrative arrangement between Apple and Google, which generates significant revenue for Apple, was a key reason for maintaining the status quo. Additionally, concerns about Bing’s ability to compete with Google’s quality and capabilities further discouraged Apple from making a switch. Despite past opportunities, such as Bing being the default search engine for certain Apple features, no major shift away from Google has occurred, and the most recent extension of the Apple-Google deal suggests that Microsoft’s attempt to disrupt the arrangement was unsuccessful.