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Microsoft tried to flog Bing to Apple but got snubbed

by on27 February 2024

It probably wished it had bought it now

Microsoft offered to sell its Bing search engine to Apple in 2018, Google claimed in a court paper this month.

The information was part of a court document which has tipped up in the legal fight over whether Alphabet has a monopoly in web search ads is about key deals Google has with Apple and Android phone makers to make sure its search engine is the only one.

In 2021, Google spent more than £19 billion in protection money to Apple to keep its search engine the default, according to a slide shown during the trial in October. Google has been trying to show in the case that it plays fair.

In the paper this month, Google said that Microsoft had a go at Apple in 2009, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2020 about making Bing the default in Apple's Safari web browser, but each time, Apple said no, saying Bing was rubbish.

"In each case, Apple had a hard look at the quality of Bing versus Google and decided that Google was the better default choice for its Safari users. That is competition," Google wrote in the paper.

The Justice Department said in its own new paper that Microsoft has spent almost £73 billion on Bing over 20 years. The Windows and Office software maker launched Bing in 2009, after search tries under the MSN and Windows Live names.

Today Bing has a three per cent global market share, according to StatCounter. In the fourth quarter, Microsoft made £2.3 billion from search and news ads, while Google's search and other income was £35 billion.

Google said in its paper that when Microsoft had a word with Apple in 2018, bigging up Bing's quality, Microsoft offered to either sell Bing to Apple or start a Bing-linked joint venture with the company.

Apple's boss of services, Eddy Cue, said Microsoft's search quality, their investment in search, everything was not good at all. Microsoft was investing at any level like Google or what Microsoft could invest in. And their ad group and how they mase money was not very good either."

Google said Apple boss Tim Cook sent an email to Apple bosses about the review of Bing, but his words are censored in the court documents.

In October, Microsoft boss Satya Nadella said in the trial that he has "tried every year of my time as boss to see if Apple would be up for" a default deal for Bing.

Cue said that "if Apple did not get the huge payments it wanted from Google, Apple would have made its search engine," the Justice Department said in its paper.

In September, by naming unnamed people, Bloomberg said that in around 2020, Microsoft bosses had "chats" with Eddy Cue, Apple's boss of services, about selling Bing to Apple.

If Apple had bought Bing and then used it to build its own search engine, history would have gone down a different trouser leg.  While Bing in 2020 was not that important, it provided Vole with the basis to build its AI empire. Without Bing, Microsoft would be in a similar position to Apple and have no AI plans or ability.  Apple is now in a position of playing catch up, although if the Court documents are to be believed, it has had years of cashing massive cheques from Google to make up for it.


Last modified on 27 February 2024
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