The Apple vs Google battle is the break Bing needs
For the moment, you can forget about the combative history between Apple and Microsoft. Rumors have been circulating about Apple using Bing as the new the default search engine on the iPhone. If this happens, Bing search will immediately become relevant due to the iPhone’s dominance in the smartphone marketplace.
Without question, mobile is one of the most important battlegrounds in the search business. The rapid adoption of smartphone technologies means an ever increasing number of consumers are searching for businesses on their mobile phones. Therefore, optimizing local search is a critical component for the marketing of most small businesses.
Historically, I have been jaded when it comes to Microsoft products due to a long history of failures such as Windows Me, Windows Vista, IE 6, MSN Music and Zune. On the other hand, Bing has been a pleasant surprise and Microsoft has continued to demonstrate their commitment to search by rolling out a steady stream of new Bing services. This week alone, Bing has launched Recipes Pages, Destination Maps and Local Events.
So why would Apple decide to start sleeping with the enemy? Because they now view Google (the current default iPhone search tool) as the bigger threat to their business. The gloves are off in this emerging Apple vs Google saga and switching to Bing as the default search for the iPhone would be a pretty big blow to Google. Some of the recent Apple/Google history (see below) suggests the two companies are headed for much more drama in the coming years.
Apple vs. Google Recent Competitive History
October 2008 – The HTC Dream is released which is the first smartphone using Google’s Android OS. As of December 2009, Android is the fastest growing OS in the smartphone marketplace. A report released yesterday by TechCrunch, shows the Android OS smartphone market share in North America has climbed from just 4% in the first quarter of 2009 to 27% in fourth quarter.
July 2009 – Apple rejects the Google Voice iPhone application (which would have allowed customers to make VOIP calls on their iPhone) prompting a FCC investigation.
November 2009 – Google announces their purchase of mobile advertising giant AdMob for $750 million.
December 2009 – Apple beats Google to the punch by purchasing innovative music startup Lala.com for $85 million
January 2010 – Apple anounces their purchase of mobile advertiser Quattro Wireless for nearly $300 million and immediately forms a new Mobile Advertising group
January 2010 – Google releases Nexus One to large fanfare but the launch is clouded by hardware problems and falls well short of initial sales estimates.
Not long ago, Google and Apple saw themselves as kindred spirits. There was no significant overlap in offerings between the companies and they each seemed to foster a similar corporate culture. In fact, key players from each organization sat on the other’s board of directors, but conflicts of interest became too great for it to continue.
Now, it seems clear that any cooperation that once existed is ancient history. This is why Microsoft Bing now has an opportunity to share the stage and why SEO strategists need to take Bing seriously.
Local search is not the only thing at stake here for Bing and Google. In fact, all of this might mean very little if not for the proliferation of mobile ads. An industry that did not even exist just a few short years ago, is expected to generate over $5 billion annually within 3 years. Google obviously has an advantage by the sheer market share of its service, but Apple and Microsoft may be aligning in an attempt to slay the beast.
Rumor has it that iPhone OS 4.0 will be announced and likely released during the Apple event next week on 1/27/10. What is the biggest new development rumor? It’s not just the ability to multi-task apps. Bing may just be the default search engine in the new OS and you may be wishing you had started optimizing your business for Bing (not just Google).