Verizon is firmly on the Android train with a full line of handsets, but it may be detouring that train through Redmond, Wash. to replace Google search with Microsoft’s Bing on future Android phones. Customers were quick to notice that Bing is the default search engine on Verizon’s Galaxy S Fascinate phone, and no Google search apps are installed on the phone. These apps don’t appear in the Android Market for downloading either, thus preventing Verizon customers from easily bypassing Bing search. One other major Google service missing from the Fascinate is Google Maps.
Fascinate owners can still run Google searches through the web browser, but the convenience of having a dedicated Google search widget/app is lost to Verizon’s customers. It appears Verizon is actively blocking the accessibility of some Google apps on the Fascinate, and it’s being reported that will be the case on all of Verizon’s Android handsets going forward.
Verizon signed a $500 million deal with Microsoft last year to put Bing on its handsets, which is likely behind this lack of Google love. The carrier has raised the ire of BlackBerry owners in the past by replacing Google search with Bing; with this deal, Microsoft may have found a chink in the Android armor on Google’s own platform. We’ve asked Verizon to comment on this story, and will provide updates once we’ve heard from them. These types of carrier-specific deals may be the wave of the future; perhaps we’ll hear more about them at our Mobilize conference this month.
Related GigaOM Pro Research (sub req’d):