Is Bing iPhone App Evidence of Microsoft-Apple Alliance?

Bloggers are glad to see Bing and Apple uniting against Google, but are skeptical the union will go much further

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Google's vaunting ambitions have hardly been greeted with universal enthusiasm. Take Apple for example, which was once so cozy with Google that the government went sniffing for antitrust violations. Now, not any more: After Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigned from Apple's board of directors in August, the companies have edged toward all-out war over smart phones, mapping software and music. Microsoft, meanwhile, has waged its own struggle against Google over search and innovation, while simultaneously keeping the heat on its traditional nemesis, Apple.

But on Tuesday, tech bloggers were forced to re-evaluate the battle lines. That's because Microsoft's Bing Mobile Search application made its debut in Apple's App Store (no small feat given Apple's stringent review process). Is this the beginning of an unlikely alliance against Google? Tech bloggers, for the most part, doused that suggestion.

  • They've Tried it Before Kara Swisher of All Things Digital* says that there is a longstanding precedent for the move: "It's a sweet little irony, since Microsoft and Apple have been frenemies over the years…Microsoft already has some apps for the iPhone, such as for its Seadragon photo app, a Tag Reader app and various manual apps." Indeed, reconciliation attempts gone back to at least 1997, when newly-restored Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously stunned the attendees at the MacWorld conference by announcing a cross-licensing partnership with Microsoft."
  • Sort Of, Since Google is A Shared Threat Chad Berndston is one of several bloggers interpreting the words of Michael Gartenberg a tech analyst and former Microsoft pitchman. Gartenberg claims the Bing app is a sign that Microsoft and Apple recognize a far bigger foe than each other, and Berndston offers a tempered endorsement of this view: "The Bing app is available for free -- it already exists for BlackBerry and Windows Mobile phones -- and will go head to head with the Google Mobile App, which is Google's established iPhone landing spot. While it would be naive to think a Bing app for iPhone signals something greater in the thawing of Apple-Microsoft relations, rest assured this won't be the last time the two titans find common ground against a common enemy: Google."
  • No, Remember Those Scathing Mac Ads? At the Inquirer, Nick Farrell sincerely doubts Gartenberg's implication that a "partnership between Apple and Vole is a wise move at curtailing the Google empire," especially since Apple has invested so much money and time promoting itself as the anti-Microsoft: "While it is true that Apple is starting to dislike Google, the company's image is built on attacking Microsoft. Apple fanboys have already had to deal with Steve Jobs deciding that Intel is really nice after all, but cuddling up to the Vole might be an alliance too far. However chances are that they will still do just what they are told, bless 'em."
  • On and Off At Best Digital Trends blogger Dena Cassella explains why the Bing App doesn't indicate anything more than a begrudging, temporary cease-fire: "Do we smell cooperation? Almost. It actually smells more like toleration…It almost looks like one of the signs of the Apocalypse, but surprisingly it’s not and surprisingly the app seems pretty useful—and it’s not from Google, so we can understand the appeal."
  • More Like Microsoft Conceding to Apple in Mobile Wars Some bloggers ran with the idea that the Bing iPhone App was Microsoft's way of saying they recognized how dominant Apple was when it came to mobile applications. As Dan Frommer attests at the Business Insider: "Microsoft is smart to realize that Apple has created a mobile app platform that people actually use. And as the world's leading software company, Microsoft must now make apps for it -- even if it looks bad because the iPhone is eating Windows Mobile's lunch. So, nice job!" TechCrunch's MG Siegler concurs: "From Bing’s perspective it makes sense. They’re trying to grow the service, and search on mobile is red hot, as is the iPhone, obviously. But perhaps more interesting is just how much Bing is promoting the App Store within its own search engine."

*Correction, Dec. 18, 1:30 pm:
This post previously erroneously identified Kara Swisher as a writer for CNET. See comments section below for more info.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.