How Google Is Beating Microsoft Bing on the iPhone

Apple is switching the default search engine to Google from Microsoft’s Bing for its Siri digital assistant and some other parts of its popular operating systems. Google was already the default in Apple’s Safari web browser, part of a deal that pays Apple about $3 billion a year, according to analysts.

Starting on Monday, Apple (AAPL) customers who ask Siri for information on a mobile or desktop device will get results returned from Google, news site Techcrunch reported. The new Google (GOOGL) default will also takeover results on “Search inside of iOS,” which was formerly called Spotlight, and Spotlight on Mac computers.

Microsoft’s (MSFT) Bing will maintain its default position for a few areas, including image search results in Siri, on iOS search and in Spotlight on the Mac. The change comes a few days after Apple released its updated operating system for the iPhone, iOS 11, and on the day the company released its new Mac software, called Mac OS High Sierra.

Apple made the changes in order to “allow these services to have a consistent web search experience with the default in Safari,” company said in a statement. “We have strong relationships with Google and Microsoft and remain committed to delivering the best user experience possible.”

Microsoft acknowledged the changes but noted that Bing’s search volume was still growing. “We value our relationship with Apple and look forward to continuing to partner with them in many ways, including on Bing Image Search in Siri, to provide the best experience possible for our customers,” the company said in a statement. “Bing has grown every year since its launch, now powering over a third of all the PC search volume in the U.S., and continues to grow worldwide.”

Google confirmed the changes but declined to comment further.

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Back in 2014, Apple integrated Bing more closely into the Spotlight search function on Mac computers. Previously, such searches had defaulted to Apple’s Safari web browser, which relies on Google search. And that was a year after Apple added Bing as the default search option for Siri.

Customers can still change the defaults if they wish, but few take the time to make a switch. Google will pay Apple about $3 billion this year in return for all the search traffic it receives from Mac, iPhone and iPad users. That represents nearly 5% of Apple’s operating profit, analysts at Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi has estimated.

Google pays out billions to web sites, apps and other companies that send search traffic to its servers. The company paid out over $5 billion in traffic acquisition costs in the second quarter of this year, for example, accounting for 22% of its total advertising revenue.

(Updated Sept. 25 with comments from Apple, Microsoft, and Google.)

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