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Stephen Logan

Is Microsoft-Nokia Deal Good News for Bing Mobile Search?

11th Feb 2011 News, Industry News 2 minutes to read

Now that Microsoft have teamed up with Nokia, the world’s most popular smartphone manufacturer, will Bing see a big mobile search surge?

The smartphone industry is huge business. For that matter, so too is mobile search. Therefore, aside from the benefits of integrating Windows 7 technology, Microsoft must be pretty happy with their tie-in with Nokia.

Bing has been growing slowly for the past two years. However, some would argue, based on the technological and marketing investment, far too slowly. Mobile efforts have been hampered by the growth in popularity of Android and the miserly 4.2% market share Microsoft have in the smartphone market. This has been compounded by Apple keeping Google as their default, despite plenty of rumours to the contrary [see: Can Bing (With a Little Help from Apple) Topple Google in Mobile Search?].

However, a merger between Microsoft and the world’s most popular smartphone manufacturer could hand Bing a golden opportunity for a solid stake in the market.

The figures are promising. Whilst Nokia’s market share dropped significantly in 2010 (from 36.4% in 2009 down to 28.9%), the number of units produced increased by 20 million – rising to 461 million [figures from Gartner]. Therefore there is a readymade market for Bing to potentially exploit.

Being a default search engine doesn’t guarantee continued usage. Phone owners are free to change their preferences and search habits as and when they choose, which invariably will lead many back to Google. However, like Internet Explorer for desktop users, it does provide a strong starting point for Microsoft to potentially exploit.

Now whether the Windows platform is better or worse than any other out there is a debate for Engadget, the interesting aspect for us is the potential for a substantial shift in mobile search share – and possibly overall market share. If Bing had secured the rights to be the default option on the iPhone (which is still plausible), they would have a huge foothold in the smartphone market already; however, this could be the big change that makes a real difference, particularly as Nokia sold 10 times the amount of devices than Apple last year.

Their search partner, Yahoo, received major backing with the adoption of their Mail and Chat software on Nokia devices last year [see: Yahoo Make Strides into Mobile Market with Nokia Partnership]. So it will be fascinating to see if this Microsoft alliance has an impact on this agreement, or even if it can help consolidate the YaBing brand in mobile.  It’s an unsteady coalition at the best of times, so this is one more obstacle for them to overcome.

This is a story that will no doubt rumble on throughout the year, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on the search implications as the partnership starts to bed in.

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