Yahoo has been front-and-center for several news items over the last few weeks, among them: the $58 million severance package the company’s ex chief operating officer Henrique de Castro received for 15 months of work despite his leaving on bad terms; the roster of celebrities the company is bringing on to strengthen the popularity of its news business; its better-than-expected first-quarter earnings that rode mostly on its 24% stake in Chinese internet group Alibaba; CEO Marissa Mayer’s lowered salary of $26.9 million in 2013 from $36.6 million in 2012. And now, the report that Yahoo is looking to oust Google as the default search engine on all iOS mobile devices has the technology community intrigued at Mayer’s plan to unseat her old company.
VISUAL CONTEXT: MOBILE OS MARKET SHARE
Re/Code cites insiders in Yahoo when it reports that Mayer has launched an internal plan to convince Apple to reconfigure its Safari default search settings on all of its mobile devices. Safari — Apple’s homegrown browser — is currently defaulted to search using Google, but Mayer plans to go before Apple and present a detailed plan to appeal to the iPhone maker in a bid to upset Google’s entrenched position as the go-to search function.
Users currently have the option to change the settings on their iOS devices to make Yahoo or Microsoft’s Bing the default search engine, and of course users can download Google’s search application or Chrome application and just use those instead of Safari altogether. But what might work in Mayer’s favor in convincing Apple to switch to Yahoo is Apple’s longstanding operating-system rivalry with Google. iOS is not dwarfed in worldwide usage by Android, but Android definitely dominates the mobile operating system landscape; the International Data Corporation reported in August 2013 that Android-based devices accounted for 80% of all smartphone shipments. Perhaps Mayer can engage Apple’s competitive streak — particularly since making Yahoo the default search engine would certainly set it apart from all other operating systems, and Yahoo and Apple have always had a stable relationship.
Still, convincing Apple to replace Google with Yahoo seems like an unlikely bet. Mayer has certainly made some significant efforts to turn Yahoo around since her installment as CEO in 2012 — a project that will likely be several more years in the making. And gaining default setting for search would be a huge win for her and the company, but Mayer is going to have to bring out the big guns to persuade Apple to reconfigure its own browser’s search settings on its iconic mobile devices. Re/Code’s report quotes one member of the project:
This is the aim of the whole effort here, to grab the pole position in iOS search. It will take more than pretty pictures, though, to convince Apple to give up Google, given its focus on consumer experience being top-notch. But Marissa wants it very badly.