Verizon Reportedly Forces Smartphone Users To Exclusively Search Via Bing

Readers and news reports say Verizon has pushed out a smartphone update that has made Bing its exclusive search application thanks to a rumored half-billion dollar deal between Microsoft and Verizon.

From the Register’s Dec. 19 post:

Verizon pushed the search change over its network two days ago, the company has confirmed with The Reg. “We’re a proud supporter of Microsoft’s Bing search engine,” a company spokesman tells us. “On a couple of select smartphones (Storm 2 the most prominent), we’ve changed the [Verizon Wireless]-supplied web menu to make Bing the default search engine.”

Reader Sean sent us this message:

First off I really do love my Blackberry but on, I believe it was, Saturday my phone all of a sudden had a Bing application, and I have no idea why. I thought that maybe I could have accidentally downloaded it somehow (really really really doubtful but possible), but I looking on the web today I found this and while my internet does still have the option to search wikipedia, google, etc. am I soon to be without these options?. And I’m wondering if other readers woke up to find the bing application themselves sometime last week. Just thought I’d give you guys a headsup on the situation.

If you’re a Verizon smartphone user who has been Binged, please leave your reaction in the comments.

title [The Register, via the New York Times]

Comments

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  1. Conspirator says:

    A few weeks ago I began receiving an “unsafe certificate” error on my Verizon browser (non-smart phone) whenever I tried to access gmail or other google sites. It seems to have been fixed this week. I wondered if it had anything to do with Bing being the new search engine.

  2. penk18 says:

    Hmmm. I noticed the Bing app yesterday. Not nice to touch other peoples’ stuff without permission, Verizon.

    • Esquire99 says:

      They probably have permission via your contract. Still not nice, but they likely do have “permission.”

    • TheSkaAssassin - College Man says:

      Its not technically your stuff, you’re just paying for the right to use it.

    • DustoMan says:

      The ability to “push” applications is a feature of the Blackberry service. If you were attached to a corporate BES server, they could do the same thing.

  3. Bohemian says:

    Well Verizon just cemented we will not be getting any of their smartphones. I can’t even imagine the universe imploding that would happen if they attempted something like this on the Droid.

  4. Aresef says:

    Watch the Droid get the most ironic update ever.

    • spazztastic says:

      I was wondering; but my Droid still has Google…it’s cobranded with Motorola, Verizon, and specifically says ‘with Google’ on the hardware.

  5. dabomb4097 says:

    I had a Bing icon pop up on my Blackberry home screen after a reset, but I just hid and ignored it. My regular browser icon still has a choice between Google, Windows Live, and Wikipedia for searching.

    • jayphat says:

      Ditto. All my searchs on my Storm still come up using google. I have the opton for Bing and the app has been installed by I never use it. Google is my friend and until Google cheats on me or I find out it’s talking trash behind my back, on our merry way we will go.

    • Ohgodyoudevil says:

      Double ditto. I’d be willing to use the Bing app that suddenly appeared, but it doesn’t adjust when I hold my Storm sideways. I’m not going to use the phone keyboard (as opposed to qwerty) to type anything in a search, so it’s a waste of space as far as I’m concerned.

  6. danielem1 says:

    I got binged on my Tour the other day. It showed up after a restart to apply an update to my Pandora application, so I assumed Pandora was spamming me. Now I hear it’s verizon? Wonderful.

    • bill793 says:

      Same here…popped up after updating Pandora…I was cursing them under my breath…nice to see who the real culprit is. I am determined not to “bing” anything…hid it as well.

  7. crazedhare says:

    I just searched my Blackberry Tour, and there is no Bing app and no change to my browser function (i.e. option to search using Google, Live Search, Wikipedia or Dictionary.com). So from the article, it doesn’t seem like this applies to my device, and I will be pretty pissed if it does in the future. Verizon may be a “proud supporter of Microsoft’s Bing search engine,” but I am definitely NOT.

  8. FilthyHarry says:

    Who needs network neutrality?

    • cheese1756 says:

      Customers need net neutrality, so we can torrent all of the Linux operating systems we want and use gmail.

  9. BillyDeeCT says:

    I’m so glad I discovered this BEFORE I signed up for my “New Every Two” phone update. Even though I’ve been with Verizon for many years it sounds like looking elsewhere may be in the card. I don’t appreciate anybody forcing a change on the way I use any of my personal appliances like a computer or smartphone just because somebody greased that company’s hand. I say if you are in a position to do so, vote with your wallet. I will consider switching providers even if the change is inferior coverage as long as they don’t play these kind of games

    Hello, Verizon? Can you hear me now?.

  10. Derv says:

    My Blackberry Curve just got “Binged.” After I found out it was Verizon’s doing, I called customer service, and was told that I should submit a feed back email on their website since they apparently can’t take complaints over the phone. I had some bull-shit voicemail on my cell phone the other day basically telling me that I could uninstall it if I didn’t like it and it was part of a phone “update” that verizon reserves the right to push to my phone.

    • discounteggroll says:

      I called customer service, and was told that I should submit a feed back email on their website since they apparently can’t take complaints over the phone

      anybody else see the irony there?

    • CSR says:

      Unless they’ve changed things since I left in September, they *can* take complaints over the phone. They just submit a form called “Voice of the Customer”. Of course, when people were really annoyed, I’d suggest that they could send an email as well.

  11. Rask says:

    Rogers did the same for Facebook up here in Canada for a Blackberries a while back. The new icon wasn’t the app itself but rather a shortcut to download the app. Promotional material as it were.

    If you don’t like the icon, hide it. Problem solved. The bing app itself is pretty sweet.

  12. mobbo says:

    So they get $500 million… and none of it is passed along to the people who are forced to use it? Gee, thanks.

  13. MyTQuinn says:

    When I had a Blackberry (I now have a Droid) I wasn’t Binged, I was Facebooked. As Esquire99 said, they probably did have permission, but I still sucked. I wonder if it’s things like this that increase the cost of care for smartphone customers, as Verizon claims, in their justification for the $350 ETF.

    But then again, I might be a Bing supporter too, for a half-billion dollars.

    • DustoMan says:

      If any of these app actually took up space you might have something there. But they don’t, like someone else said above, it’s a *icon* to install the app. Not the app itself. And guess what. About half of the icons you saw when you first powered up the BB were pushed in the same manner. It’s now the system works. Deal with it.

  14. dark_15 says:

    As the BlackBerry Admin I had the Bing Application show up on my Verizon BB Curve users as well as our BB Storm phones.

  15. crichton007 says:

    Yeah, I was Binged by Verizon which I find annoying but not such a big deal. I didn’t really use that to search Google so I still use the old way.

  16. Brain.wav says:

    Doesn’t seem to affect the Droid. I’ll check on Monday to see if any of the other phones at my place of work have been affected.

  17. Trai_Dep says:

    It’s a fairly sleazy way for Microsoft to boost their Bing! marketshare numbers through backroom deals and leveraging their OS, just like they did with Netscape.
    First sneaking in an IE update that makes it difficult from a UI perspective to switch to Google, and now this.
    Wait for a month for MS to blare loudly, “Bing! marketshare is up because people prefer it over Google”, obscuring the fact that it’s due to their slight-of-hand instead.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      Err, to clarify: IE’s update that uses Bing! for the default search bar index, with multiple, multiple clicks needed, and nonsensical screens to wade thru, before your IE search bar uses the Google engine.

      • RandomZero says:

        I’ve been wondering for a while now how much of Bing’s (pretty abysmal considering the money behind it) alleged market share is “People forced to use IE, which defaults to Bing for everything“.

    • Gordon Comstock says:

      I’m not sure it’s really fair to blame Microsoft for this. It’s not like MS could have done this by themselves, and it’s not like it was part of the OS from the start. Verizon are the ones who were willing to sell their customers’ choices to MS, without even asking, for half a billion dollars. If Verizon hadn’t agreed to the deal, it wouldn’t have happened, and I think the blame needs to rest mainly with them.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        Don’t you think it mirror’s Microsoft’s deft (though scuzzy, and ultimately illegal) move to lock in OEM hardware manufacturers to bundle Windows on every Dell (etc.)?
        Same thing: MS goes to a provider for prime real estate for their inferior product, cutting out the consumer to chose. Buying market share rather than earning it.

  18. baristabrawl says:

    Has Microsoft not learned it’s lesson? Anti-Trust? Doesn’t this qualify?

    • XTC46 says:

      nope. Google is the default search provider on many devices, but as long as its reasonably easy to change that its breaking no laws.

  19. buShroom says:

    My phone suddenly had a Bing app, too. I haven’t had any problems with google sites, though. I took the Bing app and basically just kinda buried it in my phone.

    Disaster averted.

  20. zlionsfan says:

    Nothing on my phone, although it’s not up-to-date anyway because the last I checked the synching tool wasn’t compatible with Vista.

    It’s just as well. I don’t use Bing anyway, and if it came down to it, I would rather not search at all than be forced to use a specific tool just because it makes Verizon more money.

    My contract’s up in a few months, maybe this will be yet another reason to leave Verizon.

  21. Andrew360 says:

    I’d rather die slowly than use bing as default. I guess I won’t be using Verizon any time soon.

    I’m about to buy an iPhone, but I’m rather unhappy that I can not use Opera Mobile. At least I have Google.

    • BridgetPentheus says:

      Sony Ericsson + Opera Mobile = awesome phones. They’ve been coming out with some cool phones and I’ll probably go back after my iphone 3gs cause I’m not in love with it. But of course the cool phones in the rest of the world take forever to get here but Amazon is great to buy unlocked phones outright.

  22. newsbunny says:

    Bing magically appeared on my Verizon Crackberry a couple weeks ago.

    Hmmmmmmmmmmm

  23. Eric Jay says:

    It’s not so much the addition of the Bing app that is so bothersome. They’re also updating the search box in the Blackberry browser so that Bing is the ONLY option.

    I’d be fine if they pushed a Bing app — I can hide it. I’d be fine if they added Bing to the browser search box choices. I’d probably even put up with it if they made it the default search engine. However, I can’t stand the fact that they’ve removed the other options that I’ve been using for years (Google, Yahoo, Dictionary.com, and Wikipedia).

    Yes, I can still browse to google.com, dictionary.com, or wikipedia.org and then type in my search term, but the whole point of a search box with a drop-down selector is to avoid that. Verizon has essentially disabled that feature.

    • penk18 says:

      Although the app showed up on my BB Curve on the 24th, the VZW internet browser is still providing Google, Live Search, Wikipedia and Dictionary.com (no Bing option) as search engine options. I have tried Bing and do not care for it, so I’m glad to see it’s not a mandatory engine (so far).

  24. zimmi88 says:

    Hmm… hasn’t shown up on my Storm yet. Is this only affecting the Storm 2?

    Anyway, doesn’t really matter since I tend to use Opera Mobile.

    • neil125 says:

      Not sure because i got Binged like over a month ago on my storm 1.

      • savashley says:

        same here…over a month ago..completely forgot about it though until reading this article..i just hid the icon and went on with life. i’d be pretty mad if they removed the drop-down options on the Go To… page.

  25. Chmeeee says:

    I just don’t like that Microsoft is trying to buy the search market. Google got to the top (mostly) due to being the better option. Microsoft seems to be less worried about being better and is instead just throwing cases of cash at it.

    See:

    Bing Cashback
    Microsoft trying to pay Newscorp to delist from Google
    This story

  26. Cant_stop_the_rock says:

    As I understand it you’re not forced to use Bing, it’s just easier to use Bing than anything else now…

    But I’d be annoyed if I had a Verizon smartphone.

  27. bigd738778 says:

    No different then having google attached to almost any download you do with any browser. I simply uncheck the google box. If MS made the deal with Verizon then thats between them and if the user doesn’t like then leave. I myself like Verizon and don’t do enough searches with my phone to justify really caring to much. I would imagine someone will have a work around if you really need google.

  28. 339point4 says:

    The default toolbar search engine on the computers at my state university has been set set to Bing and cannot be changed without admin permission. Of course, one can still purposely navigate to google.com, but I wonder if there was some sort of deal between Microsoft and my school to make Bing the easier engine to use while on campus.

  29. DustoMan says:

    My Verizon Blackberry Tour is currently Bing free.

  30. flugennock says:

    Y’know, the more I read about crap like this happening on smartphones, the gladder I am to still own a good old-fashioned dumb phone. It makes and receives voice phone calls, and the occasional text message if absolutely necessary. That’s it, and I like it that way.

  31. flipnut says:

    If your ISP did this people would freak, but some how it’s acceptable behavior from a cell phone company.

  32. neil125 says:

    This is weird that its only getting publicity now. I woke up one morning about a month ago and had Bing on my home screen (BB Storm). I was actually peeved a little and felt violated that it had installed itself, since I fully support Google for searching. I was more annoyed that it messed up my home screen was messed up because it added the new icon in the middle. I wonder if I was part of a test rollout?

  33. uber_mensch says:

    I am sure MS is doing what they always do best.. they BUY market share. Just like they tried to do with WEB.COM when they gave them $3 million dollars to host their customers on MS IIS servers.

    The funny side to it all is that WEB.COM put the customers on RedHat Linux servers then hid them behind IIS proxy servers.

  34. ldavis480 says:

    I was actually planning on going with the new droid phone and switching to Verizon. I’m with Sprint now and while Sprint is not without their problems this is a deal clencher for me. I will probably look at other smartphone options with my current provider now. Way to go Verizon you scumbags.

    P.S. Dear Microsoft: it’s obvious that after all these years you continue to be total scumbags.

  35. gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

    Not that I would ever defend Verizon since I am with them only because of Alltel selling. However I am not forced to use Bing on my BB Curve 8330.There is a link to it on my desktop but in the native browser and Opera Mini google is still the default. I don’t use Bing by not clicking on it.

  36. krozfan says:

    I noticed the bing app when I updated my firmware a few weeks ago, but when I go to Browser it’s still a Google search.

  37. parnote says:

    MicroCrap … up to their same old games. Now, they’ve found an equally sleazy bed-partner with Verizon. I found, and deleted, the Bing app from my Crapberry Storm … twice. When it showed up a third time, I hid it.

    I will NEVER use Bing … no way! I’m am almost completely free from the deadly grip of MicroCrap on my home computers, and I’m not about to support them by using their ill-conceived, overrated, under-performing search engine.

    I’ll take my Google any day. Or rather, they can pull my Google from my cold, dead fingers!

  38. portsmouthnative says:

    Ive had several friends complain about this as well…….seems VZW wants to complete the evil triangle all in one week…….ETF’s/1.99 DATA CHARGES/BING

    Good work VZW…..switching to ATT was the smartest move Ive made recently

  39. popobud says:

    I’ve been binged by Verizon too. I feel like I have been violated. I feel like my phone is not my phone.

    I can understand something like this showing up after downloading an operating system upgrade but to have it just show up out of nowhere is wrong. I am not kidding when I say I feel like I have been violated.

    People keep a lot of personal information on their phones. To have Verizon decide to make a change like this just because Microsoft has paid them off is ridiculous.

    Two more things that bothered me about this:

    1. With the Bing icon appearing on my phone, the icons on my phone were no longer in their normal order. This doesn’t seem like a big deal but when I’m trying to do something quickly it is a real pain. It also raised the question, “What has happened to my phone?”

    2. Clicking on the Bing icon never caused anything to happen. I figured I’d try it out after reading about reports on the web and it was useless.

    Too bad this doesn’t allow for an ETF-free service cancellation.

  40. Zaphâ„¢ says:

    When the Storm had the big OS update a month or so back it showed up as an icon. I just hid it when I saw that it was not in the applications list. If you want to get rid of it you can delete it from your service books, but I think that VZW will just re-push it back to your BB so hiding it is probably the best option.

  41. mastermumbler says:

    I use a blackberry. I installed the google app long ago due to it’s search speed being much faster than using the browser’s google search bar. The google app is still present on my phone, and it still functions just fine.

  42. HIcycles says:

    funny, i don’t recall this much noise when Slacker was pushed. Or VZW Tones. Or the fact that Facebook, Flickr, Windows Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, vzw tones, vz navigator, etc… were on your bb when you bought it. And the new launchers will be on your bb if you buy it now.

    And really, it’s only a launcher to a website to install the software. The software isn’t automatically installed. Just hide it and forget about it. That’s what I did.

  43. holden190 says:

    Much ado about anything….

  44. crash357 says:

    Wait, I’m confused. I don’t have Verizon so I can’t check. The title says “Forces”, although it is modified with the “Reportedly”, has http://www.google.com been banned? If not I call bs on the “Forced”…

  45. vladthepaler says:

    I wonder how many calls to Verizon customer service it will take to use up what Microsoft paid them to screw up everyone’s phones.