According to The Information Google’s default Safari search deal with Apple is up in 2015. Microsoft and Yahoo are reportedly separately competing for the Safari business across devices.
The Information says that both companies are pitching to Apple’s Eddie Cue and that his decision will be based “on the quality of the product as much as the potential money made from search ads.” If Yahoo wins Microsoft will still benefit in terms of shared ad revenue between the companies.
However the fact that Yahoo is competing against Bing suggests that CEO Marissa Mayer is preparing to separate from Bing at her first legal opportunity. Yahoo’s Gemini mobile search offering is outside the Bing-Yahoo Search Alliance.
In a surprise, last week Yahoo became the default search provider for Firefox in the US market, while Google remained the default in Europe.
There have been numerous estimates in the past of just how much revenue Apple gains from Google through its iPhone Safari default placement alone. In late 2012 – early 2013 two separate financial analyst estimates put the number at between $1 and $1.3 billion annually.
Across devices Safari now has a larger US browser share than Internet Explorer according to StatCounter. Thus the deal would be significant for either Bing or Yahoo. It’s unclear how aggressively Google will bid for the business given that its brand strength would likely retain a majority of users despite a potential default switch.
While it’s possible that Apple might divide up geographies among engines as Firefox did, as The Information points out, it’s more likely Apple would work with Bing if it elects to make a change. Apple currently uses Bing web search to backfill Siri and for Spotlight Search on the Mac.
I suppose that Mayer could pull a rabbit out of the hat and win the Apple business but it’s a long shot. There’s also some recent, anecdotal evidence that Apple might be crawling the web on its own.
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