Apple and Microsoft are reportedly in discussions to replace Google with Bing as the default search engine on the iPhone and iPod touch. According to unnamed sources close to the negotiations, the two companies have been talking for weeks, according to BusinessWeek.
If Apple and Microsoft reach a deal to make Bing the default iPhone search engine, Google could find itself missing out on revenue from the most popular mobile search platform, and Microsoft could gain traction and marketshare with its new search tool.
Changing the iPhone's default search engine wouldn't, however, be a move to offer customers the best online search features.
"Apple and Google know the other is their primary enemy," commented one of the unnamed sources. "Microsoft is now a pawn in that battle."
Apple and Google are direct competitors now in the smartphone market. Apple's iPhone has been popular with consumers since it was introduced, and now Google is offering its own Nexus One smartphone with similar features and even an app store of sorts.
A search engine deal with Microsoft could leave some iPhone owners unhappy with Apple's move, but that disappointment would likely be short-lived. According to the insider source, Apple is already at work on building its own inline search service.
"If Apple does do a search deal with Microsoft," the source said, "it's about buying itself time. Apple isn't going to outsource the future."
Apple and Microsoft have declined to comment on the alleged negotiations.