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Microsoft expands Verizon partnership with Bing Android app

Microsoft is competing with Google on its home turf with the launch of the Bing for Mobile application for Verizon Wireless customers with Android-based devices.

Verizon customers with a Motorola Droid, Droid X, Droid 2, HTC Droid Eris or Droid Incredible can download the free Bing application from Android Marketplace. The deal with the No. 1 carrier in the U.S. is part of Microsoft?s strategy to expand the reach of its mobile search platform.

?Mobile is an increasingly important space for Bing, and our mobile search strategy is focused on enabling customers to easily discover, access and use the information, answers and content they need and want, anytime, anywhere with the convenience of their mobile device,? said Andy Chu, director of Bing for Mobile product management at Microsoft, Redmond, WA.

?To meet the needs of this market we provide both a browser-based solution available on any device that only requires a customer to have a data-enabled phone and also app-based solutions that are built to work on specific devices?such as select Windows phones, iPhone, BlackBerry, Sidekick, Brew and now Android,? he said.

?Bing is committed to delivering a multiplatform strategy, which is rapidly evolving to better meet the needs of our customers.?

Bing for Droid
While the Bing mobile Web site is accessible on Android devices, Droid handsets have Google text and voice search preinstalled. Microsoft is hoping that a downloadable Bing application will be able to compete.

The homepage of the Bing application for Verizon?s Droid users features the image of the day, with clickable hotspots that users can explore and discover related trivia. Users can swipe through up to seven days? worth of Bing images.

The application?s image search features have endless scrolling results.

Users can swipe through image previews and click straight through to the image host site.

There is also a mic icon on the homepage linking to Bing?s voice search option.

The Bing Android application?s voice search feature works great for searches such as map locations and Web search.

Mr. Chu said that this works especially well when looking for ?instant answers,? which give users quick and relevant answers for movies, stock quotes, flight status and local listings.

For example, users can say ?movies? for a quick result of movie listings, theaters and show times nearby.

Or users can say the flight information they are looking for, and the application will show them the departure, arrival and other relevant information such as traffic, weather, news and hotel details. Here is a screen grab:

Users can also tap voice search to find local business listings.

The Android application also has a mapping feature. Here is a screen grab:

Bing automatically finds users? current location. Then they can discover new places by category such as restaurants, banks and theaters.

Users can choose whether they want walking or driving directions. Then they swipe through each step of the directions, and the map pans and zooms accordingly.

Other features include local listing reviews, ratings and news. 

Microsoft?s Verizon partnership
Verizon Wireless is part of Microsoft?s mobile ad network, and this application extends the partnership between the two companies.

Microsoft is currently working to make Bing available on the other carriers and their Android devices.

?Given the deep partnership with Verizon on Bing search, we?ve decided to roll out our Bing search experiences on Verizon first,? Mr. Chu said.

There is speculation that Bing for Mobile may come preinstalled on the Droid 2, but that has yet to be announced.

?We can confirm that over the coming months, Verizon will announce the launch of new Android devices, which will be pre-loaded with Bing,? Mr. Chu said. ?But, we have nothing further to share at this time.?

The Bing application shows search advertising as part of the results, similar to the Bing experiences on Windows Phone, iPhone, BlackBerry and Brew.

Microsoft plans to run marketing campaigns using an approach similar to the recent iPhone application download program, in addition to some new tactics that Mr. Chu declined to reveal.

?We plan to conduct a small marketing campaign as we?ve done with mobile applications in the past, but we have no further details to share at this time,? Mr. Chu said.

Final Take