Motorola Inc. (MOT) said Tuesday it entered a deal with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) in which the U.S. software maker will provide search and map capabilities on Motorola's new smart phones, with the new offering to be launched in China in the current quarter.
Motorola said the alliance will give its customers a choice when using search and map functions on the company's Android-based devices. Android is a mobile operating platform developed by Google and other alliance partners.
The alliance between Motorola and Microsoft comes as Microsoft's main rival in search engine and mobile platforms, Google Inc. (GOOG), is embroiled in a spat with the Chinese government over Internet censorship that could lead Google to withdraw operations from the mainland. Analysts have said that Motorola, which has been relying on its ties with Google to push into the competitive cellphone market in China, may need to look at other partnership opportunities should Google pull out of the company. Motorola has said that Chinese Internet company Baidu Inc. (BIDU) is one of several search engines already available on Motorola handsets in China.
As part of the partnership, Microsoft will deploy its Bing search engine services on Motorola's devices. The search and map services through Microsoft will initially be available in China, starting in the first quarter this year.
The capabilities will be preloaded on new devices and will also be available as updates for devices already in the market.
Microsoft's Bing search engine competes against Google, whose Internet search and map functions account for the bulk of the U.S. search engine market.
-By Hong Kong Bureau, Dow Jones Newswires; 852-2802-7002; email@example.com