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Apple May Give Bing Top Billing on iPhone

By Renay San Miguel MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jan 20, 2010 12:23 PM PT

And you thought some of the couplings on "Jersey Shore" and "Big Brother" were tough to follow. Technology companies, who do the love-hate-love thing better than any reality show, may be at it again, according to reports that indicate Apple may be ready to make Bing the default search engine on its iPhone, displacing Google.

Apple May Give Bing Top Billing on iPhone

Business Week, quoting two sources familiar with the Apple-Microsoft negotiations, uses the revelations to illustrate the widening gulf between Steve Jobs' company and Google, which not only used to share board members but also memberships in the anybody-but-Microsoft club. However, now Apple -- seeing Google dig deeper into Cupertino's software realm with the Chrome browser, the Android mobile operating system and its new Nexus One phone, not to mention recent mobile ad acquisitions by both companies -- may be trying to put more distance between the two by once again embracing its Redmond-based rival.

Despite Google's wide lead in the search market, mobile search is still a strategic category as more smartphones and handheld devices continue to make their way into consumers' and enterprise workers' hands. Business Week quotes Nielsen statistics as giving Google 86 percent of the mobile search market in November compared to Bing's 11 percent, with much of that traffic originating on iPhones and iPod touches. Mobile advertising also figures into this, as Apple intends to worm its way into Google's online ad revenue stream.

The Enemy of my Enemy ...

If indeed Apple makes Bing the default browser on iPhones, it could signal Cupertino's intentions to get its phone deeper into the business arena, said Laura DiDio, principal analyst with Information Technology Intelligence.

"At this point, Apple sees the merits of partnering with Microsoft, which can also help to further its own ambitions in the enterprise, rather than let Google run away with the race," DiDio told MacNewsWorld. "Microsoft still holds the high ground in [business] application software. Even with things like Google Docs and Google Apps and open source and Linux nibbling away, Microsoft still commands a very dynamic presence, and that's not going to change anytime soon."

Apple and Microsoft have made for very strange bedfellows in the past, DiDio said, with Bill Gates coming to Cupertino's financial rescue at one point in the companies' storied histories. How things have changed: It's clear in the early 21st century that Apple and Google have become the chief protagonists in certain mobile-centric tech arenas, with Microsoft looking on and biding its time. "I don't even look at this as just another shot across the bow, as a Google vs. Apple skirmish," DiDio said. "I look at this as Apple pushing them back, trying to repulse them. Apple is digging in. At this point, you could posit that Microsoft needs Apple because this deal helps them look more relevant -- although Bing is pretty good."

Making a Statement

Currently, iPhones feature Google and Yahoo browsers, and have allowed a Bing app in the App Store. Tech-savvy smartphone users can always find a way to go to their favorite browser first, despite what icons await on a phone's home screen. Yet the 70 million iPhones and iPod touches in use are fertile ground for Bing to plant more seeds in the minds of consumers, according to Greg Sterling, contributing editor to Search Engine Land and principal analyst with Sterling Intelligence.

"You'll have a whole bunch of people exposed to it who weren't before, and some number of people will use it, perhaps with some regularity," Sterling told MacNewsWorld. "This is just an ironic or unexpected thing for Bing, which has been struggling to get visibility in mobile because of its homegrown Windows Phone OS. Getting onto the iPhone would be an important thing."

Would Jobs raise the stakes even further next week by making Bing the default search engine on what's widely expected to be the announcement of an Apple tablet computer? "I would be surprised," Sterling said. "It's not out of the realm of possibility, and that would seem to confirm all the animosity that people are writing and speculating about. However, I don't see that happening. Maybe they'll try to have it both ways by saying, 'We're adding Bing to the list of choices we're giving you.' To make Bing the default would be a bit of a distraction. They really want the coverage to be all about the device itself."

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Should employers consider job seekers' social media posts when hiring?
Yes -- Online activity is a reflection of conduct and an indicator of how a person will represent an employer.
Possibly -- Only if the job requires the applicant to represent the company in a public capacity.
No -- Employers have no business prying into candidates' social media posts.
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