Forbidden love, that staple of classic literature and romantic comedy, really loses its romance when Silicon Valley is involved.
Too bad Yahoo’s already in a committed relationship with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). But will a little thing like a 10-year contractual obligation stand in the way of Apple and Yahoo fulfilling their mobile desires?
Yahoo and Apple are discussing ways to expand their partnership in the latter’s iOS operating system — which runs on iPhones and iPads — according to a Wednesday story in the Wall Street Journal.
Mobile is the new frontier when it comes to mining digital gold, and it certainly looks like a more serious Apple-Yahoo tie-up would be a win-win deal.
Apple, you see, is trying to become less dependent on Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), whose search engine, mail, maps and other apps are popular on Apple devices. Google is Apple’s main competition in mobile because of the success of its own Android operating system and, to a much lesser extent, its own branded hardware.
Yahoo, meanwhile, doesn’t overlap much with Apple. It doesn’t have its own mobile operating system or branded hardware. And — this is critical for Yahoo — it needs to rapidly grow its presence in mobile because that’s increasingly where the users are.
Apple and Yahoo already have a nice thing going. Some of its apps for things like finance, sports and weather come preloaded on iPhones and iPads, meaning users can bypass Google search or Google apps for that info.
Yahoo data also helps power some results from Siri, Apple’s voice-activated helper — another way to cut Google out of the mix.
Now WSJ reports that the two companies are looking into ways to get even more Yahoo content loaded onto Apple devices and perhaps more data dumped into Siri.
Which makes a hell of a lot of sense, aside from some pretty big stumbling blocks — like Microsoft.
Apple would love to get rid of Google search on iPhones and iPads, but it’s easier said than done. (Its attempt to ditch Google maps with an in-house product was a rare, spectacular failure.)
It’s not like there are a lot of alternatives.
True, Yahoo could provide search services, but — and this is a big but — the company doesn’t do its own search anymore. It farmed that out to Microsoft’s Bing search engine back in 2009, when it signed a 10-year deal. And — rightly or wrongly — Microsoft still sees itself as a competitor to Apple, pushing its own mobile operating system and devices.
A closer relationship between Apple and Yahoo makes all the sense in the world for these two companies. Apple can leverage its giant iPhone and iPad user base a little farther away from Google, while Yahoo gets even more access to everyone rocking an Apple mobile device.
But if anything between the two ever transpires, it’ll probably be something less than true love. With Microsoft looking from the outside in, it’s not clear how close Apple and Yahoo can really get.
As of this writing, Dan Burrows did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.