In light of Google’s ongoing battle with a significant antitrust lawsuit, recent revelations have unveiled a fascinating what-if scenario. It has come to light that Microsoft and Apple engaged in discussions a few years ago regarding the potential acquisition of Bing by Apple. Had this deal materialized, it could have reshaped the digital landscape, with Google losing its position as the default search engine on iPhones.
According to a report from Bloomberg, these discussions transpired in 2020, based on information from anonymous sources. The talks revolved around Microsoft’s executives meeting with Eddy Cue, Apple’s services chief, to explore the possibility of Apple taking ownership of Bing through an acquisition. Eddy Cue, recognized for facilitating the agreement between Apple and Google that established Google as the default search engine on iPhones, played a pivotal role in these discussions. However, it’s important to note that these talks with Microsoft remained at an exploratory stage and did not progress towards a concrete deal.
Microsoft chose to refrain from making any comments on this matter, while Apple did not provide an immediate response when approached by Gizmodo.
The emergence of these discussions, which could have had a profound impact on the tech industry, coincides with Google’s involvement in an antitrust case. The Department of Justice initiated this legal battle against Google, alleging that the tech giant dominates the search engine market in part because its parent company engages in substantial financial transactions with major tech players such as Apple, Samsung, and Mozilla. Google compensates these companies by having its search engine positioned as the primary web crawler on their devices and browsers. The Department contends that these payouts are anticompetitive, as they deter other tech firms from entering the search engine arena, given the substantial financial resources required to compete effectively.
Bing has long been the subject of jokes within the search engine community. The idea of an iPhone using Bing as its default search engine in 2020 seemed like an unlikely fusion of groundbreaking technology and a search engine struggling to maintain relevance. However, Bing experienced a surge in attention and traffic when Microsoft invested heavily in integrating OpenAI’s technology into its products. Nevertheless, there are reports of tension between the two companies. Microsoft does not have outright ownership of OpenAI but provides cloud computing infrastructure in exchange for a significant share of profits until the tech startup repays Microsoft’s initial investment.