MOTO BING: Microsoft Seeking Android Coup (Worse Than We Thought?)


Burning the midnight oil at about 2am I saw the huge news that Motorola Android Phones would feature Bing and wrote up a lengthy article exploring what the move would mean for Google, Android and consumers. I didn’t realize it would be this bad…

bing-wtfWhile we knew the Motorola/Microsoft partnership would be aimed at countries where Google isn’t the primary search engine or isn’t operating at all (China?) we explained the door was left open for a much more broad and sweeping integration. Motorola has just issued a Press Release essentially verifying that it WILL be much more broad and sweeping than I thought it would be even a few hours ago – just check out the first paragraph:

LIBERTYVILLE, Ill., March 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) today announced a global alliance with Microsoft Corp. (NYSE: MSFT) to deploy Bing services on Motorola devices powered by Android. This new offering, launching in China on smartphones in Q1, will provide consumers a choice when using search and map functions on their Android-based devices.

It’s that phrase “Global Alliance” that worries me. It’s an intentional use of the word global that clearly states it isn’t just China, it isn’t just a region – this baby could be implemented EVERYWHERE. Otherwise, why wouldn’t they just omit a geographic descriptor altogether and just explain it would be launching in China?

I’m holding out hope that this isn’t some exclusive partnership to be extended on the majority of Motorola Android Phones. If this IS the case… it would be a major coup in a continually developing story. In my original article, which goes further into depth with my concerns, I feature a poll that asks if you would prefer Google, Bing or Yahoo services on your Android Phone. I’m interested to see the results so make sure you go and vote.

Here is the entire press release:

LIBERTYVILLE, Ill., March 10 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) today announced a global alliance with Microsoft Corp. (NYSE: MSFT) to deploy Bing services on Motorola devices powered by Android. This new offering, launching in China on smartphones in Q1, will provide consumers a choice when using search and map functions on their Android-based devices.

With this collaboration, consumers will enjoy a pre-loaded Bing bookmark on their mobile browser and an enhanced search widget with Bing integration. By enabling users to customize their devices and select their own Search provider, Motorola, with help from Microsoft, is expanding the capabilities and range of services currently offered in the marketplace and opening the doors for increased personalization.

“We believe that consumer choice is one of the most critical components to ensuring a rich and seamless client experience,” said Christy Wyatt, corporate vice president of software and services, Motorola Mobile Devices. “Motorola and Microsoft have enjoyed a longstanding collaboration and the addition of Bing services to our Android-based smartphones in China is another important step in empowering our end-users.”

“Mobile devices continue to be a critical place for customers to access location-based services such as local search and mapping,” said Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of the Online Services Division at Microsoft. “We are pleased to expand our long-standing relationship with Motorola to bring powerful Bing location-based services to Motorola’s innovative new mobile devices, providing consumers with more choice and flexibility in mobile search.”

Search and Maps capabilities through Microsoft will initially be available in China, starting in Q1 2010, through either pre-load or over-the-air updates for devices already in market.

I can’t wait to hear what the stakeholders have to say about this one – it’s going to be awhile before the dust settles if you ask me.

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. If they replaced all of Googles Apps with the equivalent Microsoft apps (Hotmail etc) it isn’t that bad really, it’s quite smart of Microsoft really, let Google build the platform for them, this is after all what open software is all about, if a small start up did the same they would be praised.

    It’s the consumers choice really, if they want a phone with Microsoft services on then balls to it let them have one, if not then let them look in someone like HTC’s direction.

    If the Bing app is as cool looking as the one in Windows Phone 7 then I’m all for that.

  2. This is the thanks Goog gets for pulling Moto out of the crapper? If this means you could see an over the air update and then find Bing throughout your phone, well goodbye Droid hello Nexus 1.

  3. By enabling users to customize their devices and select their own Search provider, Motorola, with help from Microsoft, is expanding the capabilities and range of services currently offered in the marketplace and opening the doors for increased personalization.

    Clever use of phrase here – however, on face value it means users of the phones could simply switch back to google, which I’m guessing the majority of them would!

    Does beg a further question (shooting from the hip, without any investigation on my behalf), of the devices out there at present, is it possible to change your default search provider without flashing a custom ROM? Anti-competition says it *should* be possible…?

  4. The Press Release states, “By enabling users to customize their devices and select their own Search provider, Motorola, with help from Microsoft, is expanding the capabilities and range of services currently offered in the marketplace and opening the doors for increased personalization.”

    Sounds like Motorola Android phones will come by default with Bing as the default search provider. Theoretically, users will have a choice to change that to Google, aside from the AT&T Motorola Backflip which appears to be “stuck” with Yahoo, so to speak. This isn’t as bad as I originally thought, but don’t get me wrong, I hate Bing with a passion. If they replace my precious Google Maps with Bing Maps though, I might go insane.

  5. Why can’t Microsoft stick to the god awful platform that they developed and leave Google alone?

  6. I do everything with Google, so any Bing stuff would result in me installing a custom rom.

  7. I don’t see what people are getting upset about. If your phone comes with Bing as the default search engine (which, unless you live in China, it won’t, at least for now), then you just CHANGE it to Google or whatever options are available. Kind of like on Windows or IE, you can set a default search provider and Google is one option…why people would want to be locked into Google is beyond me, they and their products are far from perfect. I’m a Moto Droid owner, and I’d love the ability to switch search engines for the default search option, why not make it compatible with the way browsers do it, where you can select WikiPedia, Bing, Google, Yahoo, Amazon as your default search provider?

  8. If that ‘choice’ is enabled by default, I’m going ebay.

  9. In this venue I cant tell whether Google is being smart or stupid. To a point I believe the big G only cares about that search and ad revenue but at the same time when you have manufacturers putting one competitors software on something another competitors developed, you get the feeling that Google’s developing android for nothing. I mean, once an Android phone is flooded with MS or Yahoo stuff, its no longer a Google phone and you can barely even associate it with Google just through the OS. It becomes an “X” phone.

  10. If they allow it to work like all other Android activities that can use one of many different apps (think Handcent, ChompSMS & the default txt messaging client) and let the user set it as the default *if they choose* then I have no problem with it. As long as I have a *choice*, I think it’s a good idea.

    After all…. if given a choice, that would give a clear indication of who’s truly the search leader. The one people *choose* or the one with the most market share because it was forced on them (think Internet Explorer).

  11. Doesn’t seem too bad to me, as long as it remains a choice easily customizable by users, as it says in the press release.

  12. The key here is choice. Microsoft got slammed years ago because they hardwired IE into Windows. So now, to be consistent, Google can’t hardwire their search into Android and block others. But I, as a consumer, can insist on choice and I won’t buy any device that forces me to use Bing or Yahoo search. So between the lawyers and the market, it’ll work itself out, although it might depend on consumers becoming savvy about their choices.

  13. @AGx-07_162 You’re right. Google has licensing of Android that most don’t know about. There are 3 different levels of Android licensing. The one that’s most relevant here is the “with Google” branding. If someone wants to use it, they MUST use Google apps. That’s why Cyanogen got hit with a cease-n-desist order that changed how he deployed his ROM. Also why the Hero doesn’t say “with Google”. But it should be interesting to see if Moto gives users the choice or if they force their new relationship with MS on us.

  14. Choice is a great idea, but let’s be clear here: Motorola is doing this to avoid the whole China/Google search war. If Google continued to bow down to China’s demands (like MS is willing to do) then Moto’s China strategy would never have been in danger. Moto is interested in selling phones. That almost got crushed with Google threatening to pull out of China. Moto got caught in the middle and with the quick launch of the Nexus One and 2.1 making Droid look 2nd best while putting Google in direct competition with Motorola, right AFTER the huge marketing push of their flagship phone, can you blame them?

    My worry is that if Motorola continues to do this (remember the Backflip does it here in the US), and other phone manufacturers follow suit, then there is no reason for Google to continue to steer the Android ship. Google makes money through the SEARCH not the OS, as the OS is free. Microsoft can use other search engines, because Windows is SOLD and the cost of the OS is the primary driver for Microsoft. If Google loses it’s revenue stream, mark my words, they WILL abandon Android.

  15. Google should do what MS does with IE. It should make google the DEFAULT browser in android and force MOTO and everyone to keep it the default. You can still give users choice but making it the default will go a long way in dissuading potential defectors.

  16. This isn’t a bad thing. Choice breeds competition; which breeds innovation. I use Google services primarily, so phones that don’t will not be in my selection queue. But if MS maps make Google Maps a better product, then great.

    Plus Google take a 30% cut on app sales. Sure they’d like to search revenue on each handset, but replacing that doesn’t cut them totally out of the pie.

  17. Well, FWIW, I don’t see where you customize the default search engine in the ANdroid browser. Motorola could just provide Opera Mini now or mabye Dolphin but the latter is more likely.

    I assume there would be mods to help people ‘fix’ the problem but this will still be a problem for Google. To grow ANdroid they must get it in the hands of as many people as they can and for that to happen the majority of people will NOT be tech savvy.

    Google could release a “googlfication” app to provide a Google version of it’s browser, mail, etc.

    As for ad revenue, I would think the ad supported applications leverage Google so they might be OK with the browser and search engine being Bing or Yahoo. If however they have no control there then yes this puts a chink in the armor for Google.

  18. Seeing how the device makers are customizing the UIs (i.e. MotoBlur), I will be VERY surprised if this is a customization rather than a full replacement. Microsoft has cash and is more than willing to fork it over for exclusive deals.

    If this happens in the U.S., all I can say is good-bye Motorola and hello HTC (which is unfortunate, becuase I really like my Droid).

  19. Choice is a good thing…isn’t that part of the reason we’re all here, rather than drinking the Apple Kool-Aid?

  20. Choice is a great thing we have going with android. In the end the consumer will decide what they want. And if what they want is not Microsoft, then that is Motorolas fate. Nail in the coffin.

  21. Bing will go bong if it gets put on any phone I own , Google for me , Micro$oft can keep their junk to themselves .
    Microcrap must be worried that all that investment into Bing could go down the tubes .

  22. Google just needs to make sure they have standalone Google apps/widgets which people can install – if they choose – in place of the Microsoft stuff. So they could have a standalone Google search bar widget, Google Maps (already available), etc.

    As long as Motorola don’t lock the phone down so that you can’t choose Google, I think it’s ok.

  23. This would ultimately help Google in the end. Opening up its own platform for competition will help them on other fronts in dealing with unfair competition challenges. I wouldn’t be surprised if all this is being done with Google’s quiet consent.

  24. This is really good news for Android, as long as Motorola doesn’t lock out Google Search. It means that Android has gained so much steam that the competition wants in. The iPhone is all about locking you into what Apple and Steve Jobs have blessed. Android is about “making it yours” as HTC says. This is why Android will surpass the iPhone.

    I don’t think Google has too much to worry about. I believe given the choice of Bing or Google, most users would pick Google. I know, I would. When someone wants to do a search on the web, they google it not bing it.

  25. So I agree that consumer choice trumps whether or not I’m in the Google-verse so it’s not all that disturbing to me. What would be disturbing is the day we all get locked into only being able to use one search engine with no choice.

  26. I thin @Ratnok sorta nailed it. What’s happening here is that Microsoft is aiming to replace Google as China’s default search portal.

    (And if that don’t slow down the Chinese, I don’t know what will.)

  27. I see no reason for worry. By not strongarming others into compliance, Google avoids a lot of legal trouble and ‘evil empire’ karma. Btw, when I carried a WinMo phone, I had no problem ‘Googlifying’ it. Moto and others are comfy with android cause they can take $$$ from MS or Yahoo for these deals so they can sell phones defaulted to competition. Google need not worry. People associate Android with Google, so they expect Google when they buy. If they see something else, chances are most will change it. If it can’t be changed, there will be lots of returns.

  28. Odd. But on a side note, motorola is located in schaumburg, IL not libertyville. Libertyville is about 25min from schaumburg, both are suburbs of chicago. I should know, I live there =)

  29. I’m just throwing this out but I don’t think this “option” will be available on any phone that has the ( with google) logo

  30. What happens to voice search? Does Microsoft have an equivalent product?

  31. Motorola wants/needs to sell phones in China as the market potential is Huge there. To do so with Google essentially boycotting China right now, limits their ability to sell phones there. Google knew that they would be giving up all of the potential ad space in China when they made that decision.

    This does makes sense for Motorola, and it just goes to prove the fact that Open Source at the OS level means just that.

  32. write to Motorola, and let them know you prefer Google…I just did.

  33. OH HELL NO!!!! I had 4 different Windows Mobile “Dumb” phones starting with the samsung i600 and ending with the xv6850. forgive my language but microsoft in all its incarnations are absolute shit. I threw each of those winmo phones into walls and have driven a broadsword through my home tower, and installed linnux on my pos acer netbook… bill gates is a douchebag. why mess up a wonderfully beautiful android expirience by polluting it with the bile of microcrap. steve jobs and bill gates are childish dinosaurs whose time has passed. wasn’t android created because people wanted something new, fresh, and that worked? go ahead Motorola, put bing in your devices… and kiss your company goodbye… shame too cuz after a decade of fail you really seemed to be making a comeback with android, verizon, and your droid.

  34. Strangely, it makes Google look really good. It kinda proves their “Don’t be Evil” mantra, doesn’t it?

  35. First off, I wrote to Motorola pointing out my concerns if their move is as widespread as it appears. Second, I don’t foresee users being able to change back to Google. Why would Microsoft pay if the change was so easily circumvented? I’m betting that this will be just like the Backflip. You can’t take out the Yahoo integration without rooting… Motorola is making a huge mistake here. Replacing a SUPERIOR product with an inferior one is something that any semi-knowledgeable consumer will avoid like the plague.

    Good thing Google foresaw this issue and implemented their Google Store, where we can be positive that all available phones will be fully integrated with Google and not any of the lesser products.

  36. Well said,Dwayne.

  37. If Bing is provided as one of several options in the phones preferences, and can be switched off by the user, then I don’t see a problem. Users should actually be allowed to remove it completely rather than simply switch it of. If they force this on their users, such that you cannot use Google or something else, then we have a problem. I would not buy a Motorola phone that forced me to use Bing.

  38. Thank goodness for rooted phones and alternate ROMs!

  39. I think everyone is panicking for nothing. This is a China based decision that has nothing to do with us stateside.Because of the whole Google China mess, this is probably the only way they could release Android over there.They also said choice not force att style.So, chillax my fellow Droiddicts wez a good to go!

  40. Msoft are very smart. If you stomp on them they will brush themselfs off and find a way to still stand. I don’t think M soft will ever die…if kept in slick hands…

  41. If market slots are viewed as a distribution of assets other than cash then compliance to self regulatory board suggestions; which should be a given considering your ability to generate industry majority opinion at any moment with your baby I sit at, seems a simple infuential mechanism to avoid suggestion of violation under early 1900s monopoly bills ie interlocking directories ect. And Imagine you may reaffirm the functionality of a modern democracy.

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