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Apple could ditch Google for Bing or Yahoo next year

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Google risks losing its spot as the default search provider in Apple's Safari browser next year, according to a report from The Information. The latest extension of a deal that's put Google Search in the hands of iPhone owners since 2007 is set to expire in 2015, and Mountain View rivals Microsoft and Yahoo are already making a case for change with Apple's leadership. Per the report, each company has pitched Apple SVP Eddy Cue on the idea of replacing Google as the default iOS search provider; Microsoft wants Bing to be the default option out of the box, and Yahoo is vying for the same spot.

Bing has already made inroads with Apple. It's the search provider used by Siri, iOS's personal assistant. And on the desktop, OS X Yosemite and its Spotlight search deliver Bing results — without any way for users to choose Google instead. Yahoo also recently picked up a significant win, becoming Firefox's default search option for at least the next five years. In that instance, Mozilla dropped Google in favor of Yahoo for numerous reasons, and Yahoo is undoubtedly hoping it can convince Apple to make the same switch.

Bing has already made inroads with Apple

Any change on Apple's part would impact mobile search market share, though it's likely many consumers would quickly switch their preference back to Google. But others might not bother, giving a potential ad revenue boost to either Yahoo or Bing. For several years now, Apple has been trying to separate itself from Google's services. In some of those cases, the strategy has worked; YouTube no longer ships as part of iOS, a change that consumers quickly adjusted to.

Other tries (like Maps) have had disastrous, embarrassing results. But again, Google only risks being toppled as the default Safari search provider. And that assumes Apple can be swayed that now's the right time. The business argument is easy, but Apple has always said it puts users first. And from that perspective, it's hard to see Eddy Cue convincing millions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac owners that Bing or Yahoo is a better search choice than Google.