Microsoft attempted to sell Bing to Apple in 2020

Yesterday, Bloomberg published a new article in its series covering Google’s antitrust case, revealing that Microsoft once considered abandoning Bing Search. In 2020, Microsoft representatives engaged in discussions with Eddy Cue, then Apple’s Vice President, suggesting that Apple acquire Microsoft’s entire Bing division.

Launched in 2014, Bing Search was a product in which Microsoft placed great hopes, intending to rival Google Search, a dominant gateway for online users at the time. In 2020, Microsoft attempted to sell Bing to Apple; however, Apple deemed it inadequate and declined the purchase.

Despite its significant push in recent years, Bing’s growth has been rather stagnant. Microsoft has heavily promoted Bing through the Windows operating system and the Microsoft Edge browser, marginally increasing its market share. Contrary to popular belief, Microsoft’s aggressive promotion of Bing might not have been to expand its presence but to position it for sale.

Bloomberg reported that discussions about this potential deal remained exploratory, with no actual negotiations on price. This underscores Apple’s apparent disdain for Bing, unwilling even to offer a bid. Interestingly, there have been rumors that Apple is developing its search engine, suggesting Microsoft might want to offload Bing, providing Apple with a ready solution and relieving itself of a burden.

Bloomberg’s report highlighted several key details:

  • One of the primary reasons Apple did not purchase Bing was its satisfaction with the revenue derived from Google. Google Search serves as the default search engine on Apple devices, for which Google pays Apple a significant annual fee.
  • The second reason was Apple’s concern about Bing’s inability to compete with Google in terms of quality and functionality.
  • In 2013, Apple reached an agreement with Microsoft to set Bing as Siri’s default search engine. However, by 2017, Apple reverted to Google, with Spotlight’s default search also switching to Google. Rumors suggested that user dissatisfaction with Bing’s search results prompted this change.
  • In 2016, Satya Nadella approached Tim Cook with a proposal to make Bing the default search for Safari. In 2018, Microsoft once again approached Apple, hoping to replace Google with Bing as the default search engine on Apple devices outside the U.S. However, these negotiations bore no fruit.

It’s noteworthy that, thanks to Microsoft’s investment in OPENAI, Microsoft now offers Bing Chat, powered by OPENAI’s GPT. Furthermore, Windows Copilot, integrated into Windows and based on Bing Chat, might potentially drive Bing’s market share growth.