According to a recent report from Bloomberg, executives from Microsoft and Apple had discussions in 2020 about the possible sale of Bing. However, these talks did not progress beyond the initial exploratory phase, indicating that Apple’s top brass never seriously pursued the idea. Testimony from the ongoing FTC antitrust suit against Google suggests that Apple has never seriously considered replacing Google as the default search engine on iPhones. Microsoft believes that Apple has only raised the possibility to extract more money from Google. Despite concerns about Bing’s ability to compete with Google in terms of quality and capabilities, Apple’s lucrative arrangement with Google was a key reason for maintaining the status quo.
Apple is estimated to earn over $20 billion annually from the arrangement that secures Google’s position as the default search engine on iOS and iPadOS. While it is relatively simple for users to switch the default search engine on their iPhones, most consumers rarely deviate from the default setting. Bing did have a chance to gain traction as the default search engine for Siri and Spotlight searches, but Apple never fully embraced the change, keeping Safari’s search results powered by Google. Discussions between Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in 2016 regarding a potential new deal that could have led to significant changes also did not materialize. Apple and Google recently extended their deal in 2021, suggesting that Microsoft’s attempt to disrupt the renewal plans with its pitch the year before was unsuccessful.