Wrong answer about a former rock star turned Apple against a purchase of Bing

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Wrong answer about a former rock star turned Apple against a purchase of Bing
Just the other day, we told you how a court document related to Google's antitrust battle with the Justice Department revealed that Microsoft tried to sell its Bing search engine to Apple. The latter was not impressed with the "search quality" of Bing and did not pursue a deal with Microsoft. And now, all these years later, the full story has finally come out and it turns out that Apple rejected Bing after the search engine failed to give a correct answer to a question about a former rock star.

A court filing submitted by Google (via The Register) reveals one of the reasons why Apple decided against buying Bing. Testing out the search engine in 2018, John Giannandrea, Apple's vice president of machine learning and AI strategy, typed into Bing's text field "Annie Lennox first band." Lennox had become a global household name in the early 80's with The Eurythmics and the band's "Sweet Dreams" became a mega-hit. But before that, Lennox was a member of The Tourists and that band achieved a modicum of success when their cover of Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want To Be With You" peaked at number four on the U.K. singles chart.


But Bing's response to Giannandrea's query simply mentioned her time with The Eurythmics and her previous gig with The Tourists was not listed at all. He also was not happy that Bing failed to offer its search engine in the local languages of markets that Apple cared about. Giannandrea realized that Microsoft had not made any improvements to Bing since the last time that Apple looked at the search engine in 2015 and 2016. Microsoft told Apple in those two years that it would improve Bing but when 2018 came around, no changes had been made.

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Meeting with Microsoft, Giannandrea felt that Microsoft admitted that Bing had issues and his impression was that Microsoft "gave us a detailed presentation of what they were not doing, presumably to motivate us to say, 'Hey if we invested in this together, we could do these things.'" However, the Apple executive came to the conclusion that Microsoft itself didn't consider Bing to be one of its most important businesses. As Giannandrea pointed out, "Microsoft was willing to sell Bing, which you wouldn't do if it was a strategic asset."

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