Which search engine gets native placement on any given smartphone has become a very big deal. It’s an even bigger deal when an OEM puts out an Android phone with anything other than Google search on it. Motorola is doing just that, announcing late yesterday that it will enlist Microsoft’s Bing services, including Bing search, to service its Android devices that are scheduled to hit China in the first quarter.
That Motorola was looking for an alternative to Google for the Chinese devices was widely known. The Chicago-based OEM had put the launch of the Android devices on hold, in light of Google’s threatened pull-out from China. Nevertheless, few would have guessed that Motorola would go with Google’s archrival Microsoft.
“Mobile devices continue to be a critical place for customers to access location-based services such as local search and mapping,” said Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of the Online Services Division at Microsoft, in a statement. “We are pleased to expand our long-standing relationship with Motorola to bring powerful Bing location-based services to Motorola’s innovative new mobile devices, providing consumers with more choice and flexibility in mobile search.”
Motorola isn’t the first company to release Android devices without Google. AT&T recently released its first smartphone based on Google’s Android, the Motorola Backlfip, and tapped Yahoo! for native search honors.
Prevailing opinion was that Google developed the Android platform to increase its search revenues, as well as to drive traffic to its many Web-based services and applications via the mobile browser. New York-based financial analyst firm Jefferies and Company predicts that Android will boost Google’s mobile search revenue above $500 million in 2011, up from roughly $180 million in 2009.