Imagine if the best Android phones didn't have Google as their search engine. As wild as it sounds, that's what Samsung was reportedly considering. But don't worry: according to a new and well-informed report, Samsung has canned its plans for the time being. The Samsung Galaxy S24, like the Samsung Galaxy S23 and its predecessors, will still be a Google machine.
The new report comes from the Wall Street Journal (paywall), which says that Samsung has now abandoned its plans to make Bing the default search engine in its own web browser. That's good news for Google, which reportedly brings in $3 billion a year from search on Samsung. But why was Samsung considering moving away – and can it even do that when it's running Google's own mobile OS?
Why Samsung was considering swapping Google for Bing
Samsung's review was only looking at its own web browser, because Google is baked into Android like currants into a bun. It's been suggested that Bing's embrace of AI may have been one of the considerations – Bing is moving to a much more conversational kind of search – but it's quite possible that the sheer awfulness of modern Google search was probably a factor too.
The WSJ says that Samsung decided not to switch in part because it would have been too disruptive, and partly because many Samsung users don't use the in-house browser anyway. But that doesn't mean it won't switch at some point in the future: according to the report, Samsung "isn't permanently closing the door" on the idea of changing its default search engine in the future.
It's hard to overemphasise how important these deals are to search engine firms. Being the default on a phone or desktop web browser guarantees massive amounts of traffic, and that traffic is extremely lucrative: three years ago the WSJ reported that Google pays Apple alone between $8 billion and $12 billion a year to be the default search in Safari on the iPhone, iPad and Mac. And that number is believed to be higher today. So it's no wonder that Google was reportedly "shocked" by the rumour that Samsung was considering going elsewhere, and I wouldn't be surprised if the search giant did some serious persuading of Samsung executives not to switch.