Last month, a rumor began circling that Samsung was preparing to abandon Google as the default search engine on its built-in Internet app.
The beneficiary would have been Microsoft and its Bing search engine, which after 14 years of barely registering with the public, has suddenly been making unexpected waves thanks to its enthusiastic adoption of ChatGPT.
But it now seems that Samsung has backed off making the change, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal.
According to the report, an internal review into changing default search engines has been suspended, partly because of “how the switch could have been perceived by the market” (i.e: a damaging vote of no confidence), and partly because of the impact such a bold move would have on its “wide-ranging business relations with Google”.
Samsung does, after all, have to work quite closely with Google. Not just with its Galaxy phones and tablets, which all use Google’s Android operating system, but with its smartwatches that now run Wear OS and the Exynos-based Tensor chips that power the latest Pixel phones.
On top of that, the report explains, “the majority of Samsung smartphone owners” don’t even use the Internet app, preferring to choose a third-party browser instead.
Add to that the fact that the move wouldn’t impact areas of Android required to use Google — such as the search function for the Android home screen widget — and you can see why Samsung would decide that change is more trouble than it’s worth.
Instead, Google continues to pay Samsung to be its default search engine and nets an estimated $3 billion of ad revenue a year in return. That may be small potatoes compared to what it gets from iPhones and iPads, given it pays an estimated $18-20 billion to Apple every year for the same treatment, but it’s still nothing to sneeze at.
If Samsung was considering Microsoft Bing for nonfinancial, AI-related reasons, then the company may also be reassured by the sheer amount of the recent I/O keynote Google dedicated to artificial intelligence. Google Bard may have got off to a wobbly start, but it’s clearly the direction that the company is looking at, perhaps making Samsung more confident to keep things as they are for now.
That “for now” may be significant, however. The WSJ’s sources say that Samsung isn’t “permanently closing the door on Bing as a future option”, so this may not be the final word on matters. But for the foreseeable future, it looks like your Samsung phone is going to behave in much the same way it always has, much to Google’s relief.