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Bing! Is That Apple Calling?

Yesterday I looked at the idea that Microsoft was playing the nice corporate citizen to a European group by agreeing to purge data from their search engine after 6 months and then asking for their competitors to do the same. How chivalrous. Well, today there are reports that Microsoft is just fine with letting others drive the Internet car for them because they are being viewed as a pawn in the growing battle between Google and Apple.

How is that you ask? There are discussions underway to replace Google as the default search for the iPhone with bing. Gee, I wonder where that came from? Could it be this little scuffle about the whole mobile market and this Nexus One / Android / moving in on the iPhone territory approach that Google is taking? Boy, once Eric Schmidt left the board of Apple it looks like the stuff has hit the fan.

BusinessWeek reports:

Apple is in talks with Microsoft to replace Google as the default search engine on its iPhone, according to two people familiar with the matter. The talks have been under way for weeks, say the people, who asked not to be named because the details have not been made public.

This of course opens the door wide open for speculation but the reality is still pretty clear. This is a potential PR move to ding Google more than it is a great play for bing. Why? Because iPhone users (on the whole) are likely to be smart enough to use something other than a default search function if they like another option better.

Louis Gray offers an interesting take on this as well because this looks less and less like a shrewd business move and more like corporate gamesmanship:

Apple has gained a loyal customer base through focusing on best of breed, even if it costs a little bit more. From Apple, I should be able to assume a higher quality product, and something that reflects real worth. Bing is good, the very best Microsoft has ever offered in search, but backroom shenanigans dealt out due to hurt feelings or assumed alliances is wrong, no matter what.

Let’s not dwell on the history or even the details here. Let’s look to discuss this. What could be lost / gained by Apple in a deal like this? What could be lost / gained by Google? Does Microsoft care what is lost or gained just as long as someone is talking about bing?