Apple could have started the search wars with Google in 2018

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 25

Apple could have owned Bing in 2018, with a court filing revealing that Microsoft offered to sell the search engine to the iPhone maker.

Bing, a Microsoft search engine.
Bing, a Microsoft search engine.



The unsealing of documents from Google's antitrust lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department on Friday made an interesting revelation about Bing. The suit, a bid to determine if Alphabet has a monopoly on web search advertising and the legality of agreements such as Google's with Apple to be the default search of Safari, raised an interesting point about Bing.

The filing from earlier in February had Google claim Microsoft had made pitches to Apple six times between 2009 and 2020 to make Bing the default Safari search, reports CNBC. Apple reportedly declined each time, due to apparent quality issues.

"In each instance, Apple took a hard look at the relative quality of Bing versus Google and concluded that Google was the superior default choice for its Safari users," wrote Google. "That is competition."

After spending close to $100 million on Bing over a 20-year period, Microsoft is claimed by Google to have reached out to Apple in 2018 with a different offer. Rather than simply being just the default search in Safari, Microsoft offered to potentially sell Apple, or create a joint venture for the engine.

The filing quotes Apple SVP of Services Eddy Cue assessing Bing, stating "Microsoft search quality, their investment in search, everything was not significant at all. And so everything was lower. So the search quality itself wasn't as good."

"They weren't investing at any level comparable to Google or to what Microsoft could invest in," Cue continued. "And their advertising organization and how they monetize was not very good either."

Apple CEO Tim Cook also reportedly emailed Apple executives about Bing, Google adds, however his comments are redacted in the filing itself.

The Justice Department's filing in the suit said that Cue testified "If Apple did not receive the massive payments it sought from Google, Apple would have developed its own search engine."

During the trial, Cue told the court that Google was seemingly the only option for Apple, with Google offered as the default in part because Apple "always thought it was the best." Cue also said that Apple had no interest in making its own search engine as the Google deal was best for its users.

The 2018 attempt was not the only time Microsoft reportedly tried to sell Bing to Apple. In September, the trial claimed Microsoft initiated discussions in 2020, but talks allegedly fizzled out before leaving the exploratory phase.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,727member
    "Not very good... "  Eddy summed up pretty much most of Microsoft's PC products. 😂
    jas99watto_cobrawilliamlondon
  • Reply 2 of 9
    jas99jas99 Posts: 149member
    MacPro said:
    "Not very good... "  Eddy summed up pretty much most of Microsoft's PC products. 😂
    100%

    Microsoft’s productivity-reducing wares really should be classified as viruses. 
    watto_cobrawilliamlondon
  • Reply 3 of 9
    XedXed Posts: 2,539member
    I do feel like Apple could've created a great search engine on their own by now. Many others have done it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 9
    "The unsealing of documents from Google's antitrust lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department ..."

    Even Google isn't that powerful.
    tht
  • Reply 5 of 9

    After spending close to $100 million on Bing over a 20-year period, Microsoft is claimed by Google to have reached out to Apple in 2018 with a different offer. Rather than simply being just the default search in Safari, Microsoft offered to potentially sell Apple, or create a joint venture for the engine.

    The filing quotes Apple SVP of Services Eddy Cue assessing Bing, stating "Microsoft search quality, their investment in search, everything was not significant at all. And so everything was lower. So the search quality itself wasn't as good."

    "They weren't investing at any level comparable to Google or to what Microsoft could invest in," Cue continued. "And their advertising organization and how they monetize was not very good either."

    Wow, is that a typo?

    Apple receives billions from Google annually to be the default search engine on Apple devices.

    It gets paid for not having to lift a finger to develop its own search, and an arguably (though increasingly weakening argument) better search product for its users.

    That's quite a position to be in, for Apple.

    Google had a seven-year head start on Maps before Apple was forced to strategically develop its own mapping product, in response to Google holding back on features for the iOS version of the app.  Some would argue that, despite the billions it has spent on the effort, Apple Maps still lags compared to Google Maps.

    For Apple to get into search would be a challenge it would need a really compelling reason to undertake, given the favorable situation it sits in.
    tht
  • Reply 6 of 9
    Let's face it. Google not Apple is in the pole position. Admittedly Apple has some one billion devices out there using search at some point the reality if Google stopped paying Apple billions of dollars to be the default search engine, what would Apple do: 
    1. Create its own. Not always an easy proposition. Apple has created an excellent Music streaming services. But it still lags behind Spotify by a wide margin six years on. To start amassing the massive amount of data starting today, 2024, to build up a credible search engine would take Apple till 2030 at the earliest to build up credible momentum. Look what's happening with the Apple Car. It's coming, it's coming, it's coming. It should be called the Apple Mirage. 
    2. It could have purchased Bing. But the latter is very weak product. About as bad as Spotlight on the Mac. 
    There is nowhere for Apple to go for Search except offer Google. The alternatives are not really viable. Not Bing, Duck Limp Duck, or any other search engine. Google invests most likely 60%-70% of its budget on maintaining and developing its search engine. If Google refused to pay Apple the billions of dollars to be the exclusive search engine on all Apple products, Apple has not got a viable alternative. 

    IMHO Apple ought to also purchase a top-notch streaming platform and combine it with Apple TV+ Yes, there are good shows on Apple TV+ but the bulk of the content is scraps from other platforms. 

    And perhaps the best thing to do, is buy out Spotify. The latter keeps whinging and whinging and whinging. Just buy them out and shut them up. 
    edited February 26 williamlondon
  • Reply 7 of 9
    kmareikmarei Posts: 179member
    how much was microsoft willing to pay :)
    williamlondon
  • Reply 8 of 9
    thttht Posts: 5,437member
    The thought of Apple having a search engine, that is competitive with Google for monetization, is bonkers crazy. 

    The only way it would be acceptable to me would be as an ad-free subscription service, but this will mean it will be 1% share at best which wouldn’t address the competition in search at all.

    If it is a free service with ads, it’s going to be shittified just like all ad-based services. Why would Apple even entertain this?

    They have other things they can burn billions of dollars on that would be more up their alley. 

    And the DOJ even thinking it was a realistic scenario is crazy, but maybe their excuse is they consist of a bunch of crazy lawyer types who live in fantasy land to begin with. 
  • Reply 9 of 9
    danoxdanox Posts: 2,840member
    I would be satisfied with a Apple search engine that could find everything on all of my Apple devices, and if AI is only half a good as the hype surrounding it Google Search as we know it is in trouble anyway.
    edited February 26 williamlondon
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