Rumors that Apple will make its new iPhone “Google-free” have triggered some media attention, but few grasp what true PR impact the move will have on Google. The Internet giant has penetrated the smartphone market successfully, with various Android models, apps, and even smart mobile ads.
Apple has been slowly killing Google services that used to be available on iPhones when these first launched in 2007. We used to have Google maps, YouTube and search. With no maps and YouTube, iPhones only had Google search, which was the default search engine on every sold iOS. Bing and Yahoo! Search were also there, as alternatives (optional, not defaults).
Recent news speculate that Apple may change its default search engine to Bing, although Google still dominates the search market. The world is becoming mobile, and Google can no longer rely only on traditional PC use to access search. Mobile is a vital part of the business.
Since Apple’s iPhone 5 sales are expected to be around 250 million devices, this will be a hard hit for Google search on iPhone, meaning that the company loses 250 million potential mobile search users (and ad clicks, and so on). To cope, Google will have to push Android sales, and to become more aggressive on the smartphone market, investing more money in PR, marketing and advertising.
So far, Bing becoming the default search engine on iPhones is just a dream, shared by many, but from dream to reality, there’s a long way. Apple made $1 billion off Google last year, according to an early report on Business Insider. It’s very hard to believe that Apple will want to do without such a big junk of revenue.
For Bing, however, all these rumors are powerful, positive and free PR pushes. The search engine pumped billions into marketing, PR and other moves, without actually grabbing too much from Google. While they have good PR agencies in Shift Communications and Rogers & Cowan, they need more strategic business moves.