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Apple Teams with Microsoft? Not So Fast

Wednesday, 20 Jan 2010 | 10:20 AM ET
CNBC.com

There are various reports this morning that Apple is ready to push Google aside as the default search engine on iPhone, in favor of Microsoft's (say it with me: Bing, Bing) Bing.

And Scott Brown took Edward Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts, so it does seem a little chilly in Hell this morning.

But before we go all crazy and embrace this new world order of Microsoft and Appleembracing each other, consider the strategic implications here, and all the back stories that are conditioning this news.

First, I'm not buying that a Bing/iPhone relationship will stand any test of time. Think of it more as a stop gap measure until Apple can get its arms around incorporating its own search software into Safari. And don't count out Firefox.

Big win for Microsoft to be sure, if it happens. And a good way to buy some time for Apple.

Getting a deal done with Microsoft does double-duty for Apple, filling the gap until it gets its own search software up and running; and it thorks jilted digital love Google right in the forehead.

It's another awesome example of my enemy's enemy is my friend, and no one plays that game better than Apple, and Steve Jobs. If this becomes part of the Jan. 27 event, expect the loud chorus of boos by some of those specially invited guests, and a louder chorus among those in the blogosphere who don't want to accept any kind of relationship with Microsoft whether it hurts now-bitter rival Google or not.

The other part of this story: I know that Yahoo and Microsoft enjoy some kind of alliance, the depths (heights?) of which are still rather nebulous. But I think it's telling that Apple went the Bing route and not the Yahoo path. Where is Yahoo? And if Apple is sniffing for a new search partner — and Yahoo offers all those "community" and "media" aspects that CEO Carol Bartz is touting, you'd think that some new relationship could have been forged here. But that appears not to be in the cards.

Meantime, an Apple/Microsoft partnership would rub salt in an already festering Google wound. But make no mistake: if it happens, and it's still a big "if," this is merely a means to an end and won't become a long-term relationship. More like a short-term Apple fling, with Bing.

Questions? Comments? TechCheck@cnbc.com

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