iOS 7 Safari

When Apple’s SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue during yesterday’s keynote said that Siri in iOS 7 will integrate Bing web search results, everyone went silent. While Google is still the default search engine in Safari, Apple will pre-install the Yandex search engine in Russia and several other countries, a Russian newspaper reported Tuesday. The development could signal Apple’s intention to gradually distance itself from Google search…

According to RIA Novosti, a state-owned news agency based in Moscow, iOS 7 users in Russia, Ukraine and Turkey report that Apple pre-installed several search engines including Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yandex, in the Safari browser.

Neither Apple’s own press release nor the company’s iOS 7 web page mentions Yandex among the pre-installed search engines. Yandex itself has not commented on the information.

Notably, Apple started co-operating with Yandex on mapping data with the introduction of iOS 6 last year. Last September, TechCrunch learned from its sources close to the situation that Yandex and Apple are working on an even bigger deal, one in which “Yandex would become the default search on the mobile version of Safari.”

Yandex is Russia’s dominant search engine, accounting to nearly two-thirds of search queries in the 143 million people market. Per LiveInternet stats, mobile and desktop Safari has a sixteen percent share of Russia’s browser market.

Of course, pre-loading Yandex in iOS 7 Safari in certain markets doesn’t mean getting rid of Google altogether as users can always choose their default search engine in Settings > Safari.

iOS 7 Safari on iPhone

On the other hand, given that average users use their device as-is, without bothering to customize search engine settings, changing defaults to a non-Google search engine will surely significantly impact Google’s search traffic from iOS devices.

Analysts estimate Google pays Apple a billion dollars each year to be the default search engine in iOS. And with iOS earning Google four times the Android revenue in search and related traffic, removing Google from Safari in iOS 7 would hit the Internet giant where it hurts the most.

That’s not saying power users would welcome the move. Google, after all, is still by far the best search engine out there.

Is it just me or is it your position as well that Apple is fighting Google at the expense of its user base?