Microsoft tried selling Bing to Apple, but its search results were too bad

Key Takeaways

  • Google’s legal dispute with Alphabet revealed Microsoft’s unsuccessful attempts to have Apple switch to Bing, highlighting Bing’s lack of appeal to users.
  • Microsoft tried to sell Bing to Apple, but Apple declined due to Bing’s lower search quality and investment.
  • Given how Bing was an early home for Copilot. it raises questions about the impact of Bing on Microsoft’s AI progress.

While Bing hasn’t exactly made a big splash in the search engine market, one could argue that the service was a good stepping stone for Copilot. After all, Copilot for the Web took over Bing Chat’s place, and it has only snowballed from there. However, recent news has revealed that Microsoft did try to sell Bing to Apple, but the deal was cut off due to the quality of Bing’s search results.


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Source: Microsoft

As reported by CNBC, the news broke during a legal battle with Alphabet, the holding company for Google. This was during a discussion on whether Google has a monopoly on web searches, with Google arguing that it’s playing fair. As part of its argument, it revealed that Microsoft tried to convince Apple to use Bing as its default search engine in 2009, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2020. However, each time, Microsoft got the same result:

“In each instance, Apple took a hard look at the relative quality of Bing versus Google and concluded that Google was the superior default choice for its Safari users. That is competition,” Google wrote in the filing.

Furthermore, during Microsoft’s 2018 attempt, it offered Apple the chance to either buy Bing or enter a joint venture over it. And as you might expect, Apple wasn’t impressed. As per Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services:

“Microsoft search quality, their investment in search, everything was not significant at all. And so everything was lower. So the search quality itself wasn’t as good. They weren’t investing at any level comparable to Google or to what Microsoft could invest in. And their advertising organization and how they monetize was not very good either.”

Unfortunately, while Google is trying to argue its case that it doesn’t have a monopoly, it’s having some collateral damage on Microsoft’s own reputation. However, it’s an interesting topic to think about; if Bing did end up becoming part of Apple’s product line, would Microsoft go on to release Copilot? Was the switch from Bing Chat to Copilot an important catalyst for Microsoft’s continued development, or would it have gone full steam ahead even if it lost Bing? Perhaps we’ll never know, but at least we have proof that Bing isn’t impressing many people, no matter how much Microsoft pesters users to make the switch to Bing.


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