Does Yahoo want to be Apple’s mobile search engine?

The Internets are abuzz with a juicy report that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is launching a bold move to supplant Google as the default search engine on Apple’s popular iPhones and iPads. But like so many tech rumors, this one’s a long way from happening yet.

The story comes from veteran tech blogger Kara Swisher, who reported Wednesday on Re/Code that Mayer has begun talking to top-level contacts at Apple about a possible search deal. Swisher, who seems to be on the speed-dial list of numerous well-placed Yahoo sources, has previously reported that Mayer has launched an intensive effort to rebuild Yahoo’s search technology, which has been allowed to languish since Yahoo essentially outsourced its own search function to Microsoft a few years ago.

Mayer has hinted that she’s not happy with Yahoo’s Microsoft deal. But while it covers traditional web search, Swisher notes that it doesn’t preclude Mayer from building new capabilities aimed at mobile and “contextual” search, which builds on data showing a searcher’s location and other acivities.

Any deal with Apple could be a blow to Google, which makes a ton of money from showing search-related ads to users of Apple devices. Swisher and other blogs have reported that Google pays Apple $1 billion a year for the coveted position of default search engine (users can switch to a different engine if they wish), though Google won’t confirm that figure.

Yahoo, however, faces an uphill battle in taking Google’s spot, as veteran search-industry observer Danny Sullivan notes in a lengthy post on the Search Engine Land blog. To start, he says, Yahoo has little search expertise today, as many talented engineers in the field have gone to work for Google and Microsoft. He also notes that search is a much bigger and more complex task today than it was a decade ago.

Finally, Sullivan also argues that Microsoft, which already provides search functions to Apple’s voice-enabled Siri, would likely bid for the job as well, if Apple seems willing to forsake Google. And he points out that Apple’s effort to replace Google as the default app for Maps on the iPhone turned into a disaster for Apple, while prompting more users to download Google’s own app.

“Apple doesn’t want to risk a repeat of Mapgate with Searchgate,” Sullivan wrote.


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  • Gary Doan

    Apple will do one of two things, partner with Yahoo or bring out their own search replacement technology and change search as we know it. They are moving away from Samsung and Google as quickly as rationally possible. Look at TSM, Taiwan Semiconductor, the largest contract fab’s earnings announcement. They beat the Street on revenues and profits yesterday, because they are making the next Apple A series processors, after Apple moved that business away from Samsung. Expect Apple to distance themselves from Google, before launching several patent infringement lawsuits against them.

  • WAM

    beating a dead horse with all the inbreds of silicon – when apple figures out that their future does not lie in the past and they hire MUSK as CEO, acquire TESLA, the Space Program, buy NASA from Uncle Sam – the better off all of us shareholderz will be

  • WAM

    BREAKING: APPLE to conceal horrible quarter with buy back – it is doomed
    going forward – always 1 step forward 2 steps back – it is basketball
    for shorts – and that’s it.

  • Robert Petry

    What in the world are you thinking Mr. Cook you are already selling your product at Wal-mart now you want to put a terrible search engine on it. You’ll be in the center aisle
    of Walmart 80% off soon enough. After your first fumble with google maps and booting off youtube iPhone you didnt learn? You did allow google to put an inferior product back on the phone it wasn’t as good. Also while your sleeeping Samsung has introduced many new products and is eating your lunch. Open source your operating systems like android and you might be still relevent in five years.

  • Interesting that you are using old logo for Yahoo. Should update–been a while now-last fall.