Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer has a plan to aggressively increase her company’s display advertising revenue, and the key is to boot Google (GOOG) out of its coveted spot as the default search engine for Apple’s (AAPL) iOS.
Apple isn’t officially part of this plan yet, but Re/Code broke the story that Yahoo is well under way in its plans to convince AAPL, including two projects being fast-tracked to boost its in-house mobile and contextual search capabilities.
What are the odds that YHOO could actually pull this off and move from being an optional choice to having Yahoo Search be the default setting on iPhones and iPads? It’s a tough sell, but it’s not impossible.
Yahoo Search as Default on AAPL iPhone Could Happen
YHOO has been on friendly terms with AAPL, and its Yahoo Weather app for iOS is a stellar example of how an app can make the most of Apple’s mobile platform — it works well, it’s intuitive and it looks stunning. It won an Apple Design Award in 2013. In delivering this showcase app that does all the things right (according to Apple’s exacting design principles), YHOO showed the high quality user experience it is capable of delivering on an iPhone or iPad.
Yahoo’s high-priority internal search initiatives — known as “Fast Break and Curveball” — are evidence the company is serious about mobile search.
Outside of anything Yahoo does, there’s AAPL’s often combative relationship with Google. Starting from when former Apple CEO Steve Jobs threatened to go “thermonuclear war” over Android in 2010, the two tech giants have been at odds. AAPL has watched Android dominate first the smartphone market, then kick iPads out of their position as the leading tablet platform. Apple has developed its own apps to remove Google versions from their position on iOS and turned to Microsoft’s (MSFT) Bing as the default search technology behind its Siri personal assistant.
All the while, Google has relentlessly come after Apple, including releasing the Chromebook Pixel to take on AAPL’s MacBook Pro with Retina Display, targeting the Apple TV with the Chromecast, and releasing Google Now for iOS to take on Siri. Google’s Project Ara is designed specifically to kill off the smartphone upgrade cycle companies like AAPL have come to rely on as a primary profit center.
Kicking Google out of its primo spot as default search engine on iOS would not be just a symbolic gesture for Apple. With iOS punching far above its weight class in mobile ad revenue generation, a move to make Yahoo Search the default would also hurt Google financially and take a big step towards ending iOS subsidizing the efforts of the enemy — Google’s Android.
The Long Odds YHOO Must Overcome
Unfortunately for YHOO and AAPL, things are never as simple as they sound, and there are many obstacles to overcome.