In a surprising revelation, it has been reported that Microsoft engaged in negotiations with tech giant Apple back in 2020 to potentially sell its Bing search engine. This deal, had it materialized, would have seen Bing replace Google as the default search engine across all Apple devices, including iPhones, Macs, and iPads, among others.
According to sources, Microsoft’s top executives held discussions with Apple’s services chief, Eddy Cue, exploring the prospect of Apple acquiring Bing. Eddy Cue has played a crucial role in managing Apple’s existing arrangement with Alphabet, which designates Google as the default search engine on all Apple devices.
While these talks between Microsoft and Apple did take place, they were essentially exploratory in nature and never advanced to a more substantial stage. One of the potential factors behind Apple’s decision not to pursue Bing might have been the substantial revenue generated from its agreement with Google. Additionally, Apple may have harbored reservations about whether Bing could truly compete with Google in terms of search quality and features.
The longstanding partnership between Google and Apple in the realm of search dates back to 2002 when Google became the default search engine for Apple’s Safari browser. Over the years, this deal has undergone several revisions. As per data from the US Department of Justice, Apple had earned a substantial sum, ranging from $4 billion to $7 billion, from its agreement with Google by 2020.
Interestingly, Apple had briefly utilized Bing as the default web search engine within Siri and Spotlight between 2013 and 2017 before eventually returning to Google with an updated revenue-sharing agreement.
Recent revelations during the Google antitrust trial include testimony from Microsoft’s advertising and web services chief, Mikhail Parakhin, who stated that Apple never seriously considered adopting Bing as the default search engine for iPhones. Parakhin further emphasized that Apple derived more financial benefit from Bing’s existence than Bing itself did, and Microsoft consistently endeavored to persuade Apple to adopt its search engine.
Currently, Google is facing legal challenges from the US Justice Department over allegations that it engaged in anti-competitive practices by incentivizing companies like Apple and Verizon to prioritize its search engine as the default choice for users when they access their devices.