Have you tried out Microsoft’s new beta search engine, bing? If not, it is actually worth a shot. While typing google.ca (I still do that) in Safari’s address bar, or using the browser’s built in search field feels more natural after years of complacent surfing, I will admit that bing.com has some benefits. Microsoft are hoping that users will discover not only via computers, but via Apple’s iDevice. They released an SDK which should help developers add Bing functionality to iPhone applications.
While a laudable effort, there are a couple of problems Microsoft will likely face in order for bing and its SDK to be adopted on the iPhone. The first is Apple’s staunch defensiveness. The Cupertino company are known to fiercely protect native iPhone features, rejecting apps which mimic or divert attention away from core software. The most recently publicised case is Apple’s rejection of Google’s Voice app and subsequent removal of related apps from the App Store. Though Apple’s relationship with the search giant has suffered lately, it is certainly much more cozy than with Microsoft, a relationship which has been on the rocks since Microsoft split away from Apple to create its own operating system, Windows.
The issue which Microsoft face is that in order to utilise Bing.com, developers will have to study yet another SDK. Even if Apple were to approve apps which utilise its archrival’s search engine, adding bing functionality to apps requires another step from developers; a step which may discourage widespread adoption.
Apple’s new operating system, Snow Leopard, debuts today with support for Microsoft Exchange, an indication that the relationship between the two companies is on the mend. As in many areas, new steps must be taken carefully. Along the same lines, the iPhone is still new and making impressions upon a still-hungry market. If Apple can make choices which bring its customers more choices, it will cement is leading position.
The SDK can be downloaded from CodePlex.com