Apple Inc. (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report is ditching Microsoft Inc.'s (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report Bing search engine from Siri, iOS Search and Spotlight on the Mac, in favor of Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report Google Search.
The switch was carried out on Monday afternoon and was likely timed alongside Apple's release of its new desktop operating system MacOS High Sierra. Google is already the default search engine on Apple's iPhones and iPads -- a deal that reportedly costs Google $3 billion annually. Apple will still use Bing for image search results on Siri.
It's not particularly surprising that Apple would choose to switch to Google because it generally likes to have continuity across all of its services.
"Switching to Google as the web search provider for Siri, Search within iOS and Spotlight on Mac will allow these services to have a consistent web search experience with the default in Sarafi," Apple said in a statement. "We have strong relationships with Google and Microsoft and remain committed to delivering the best user experience possible."
It's also not the end of the world for Bing, said Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights & Strategy. It's unclear how much Microsoft paid Apple for it to be the preferred Siri search engine, but it should have no trouble finding another deal, Moorhead said.
"It seems more like a spiritual loss than anything else," Moorhead explained. "There's a bit of sex appeal associated with being on the iPhone. But this is paid search, not organic search, so once you step back and realize that it's an advertising deal, they can just take their money somewhere else."
Bing is the second-largest search engine in the U.S., amassing 21.4% of search queries in 2016 vs. No. 1 provider Google, which had 64% of queries, according to comScore. Bing also has search engine deals with Yahoo!, AOL and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report , Microsoft said.
Bing could also seize upon the incredibly large Android market and become the search provider for all Samsung (SSNLF) or HTC phones. Approximately 379 million smartphones were sold globally in the fiscal first quarter and, among those, about 86% were devices that have an Android OS vs. iOS, which only captured 13.7% of the market.
"There's definitely been a warming up between Android companies and Microsoft," Moorhead said.
More and more tech firms are adding skills to digital assistants that require web search, such as Google Assistant, which connects with Google Search. The same could be applied to Amazon's Alexa or Samsung's Bixby and they could look to Bing to be the search provider.
"Broad search is not something that I think Alexa or Samsung with Bixby wants to be involved in," Moorhead noted. "So my hunch is that Microsoft is going to take that money [it was paying to Apple] and put it somewhere else."
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