November 22, 2014

Verizon Locks Bing in as Search Option for Fascinate, Restricts Everyone Else

With the launch of today’s Verizon Fascinate, each of the four major carriers in the United States now has a Samsung Galaxy S series phone available.  Rather than churning out the same phone over and over, each wireless provider has opted to customize their handsets with various tweaks and options.  For instance, Sprint’s Epic 4G comes with a physical QWERTY while T-Mobile’s Vibrant comes preloaded with James Cameron’s AVATAR and The Sims 3.  So, what helps Verizon’s new phone stand out?  How about the removal of Google Search?

To be fair, we’ve not received our review model yet.  We do know that the phone is powerful, sleek, and full of awesome.  And, aside from the exclusion of Google Search, there are plenty of standout features that make the Fascinate a great buy.  However, I still want to talk about the search options that come with the device.  If you haven’t heard yet, Verizon is using Bing for the search tool on this handset.

When you load up the phone you will find that Bing is the default search on the home screen widget, within the browser, and anywhere else you would look.  Further, there is no option to download and install an alternate.  No Yahoo! or Google for you.  Changing the search engine is nothing new, carriers around the world have done it.  My beef comes with the restriction that prohibits choice.  It’s not that I hate Bing at all.  I simply don’t use it and prefer Google instead.  Further, recent studies have shown that more people prefer even Yahoo! over Bing.

My guess is that this comes from some form of licensing or exclusive deal between Microsoft and Verizon.  If I were to throw a dart, I’d say that there will be probably be a few months of releases like this.  I really hope this doesn’t become the norm for Verizon or any other carriers.  Paying for Striking a deal to grow your market share is shady stuff and this only angers people.

Sound Off!

I’d like to hear your thoughts on the matter.  What do you think of Verizon and Microsoft climbing into bed over the Fascinate?  Is this a deal breaker for you?

Image courtesy of Engadget Mobile

  • http://www.ceetar.com/optimisticmetsfan Ceetar

    Borderline deal breaker, yes. It is for my fiance, and we’d have possibly done the buy 1 get 1 today, committing to giving Verizon $60 more a month. I have no problem hacking the phone and adding Google, but she won’t. Also, the 5mp camera compared to the X’s 8 hurts as well.

    • opiate46

      Lol isn’t that annoying? My gf won’t let me root her Cliq and throw 2.1 on there. I’m like well don’t complain that you don’t have Google Nav.

  • Jeremy

    Absolute deal breaker. I use Android because it is Google based. If I wanted Microsoft products I would wait for Windows Phone.

    Specifically, I use my Google search history to find items that are useful to me without the headache of re-searching.

    It would suck to have to go to Google.com in the browser on the phone every time I wanted to conduct a search.

    Love the Galaxy S, but won’t be getting Verizon’s version.

  • RF7

    Absolute deal breaker on principle alone.

    I really was excited about getting this phone, but restricting options is against everything that Android stands for. Bad move Verizon and Samsung. It’s a Droid for me I guess.

  • http://Androidguys Keefers

    I want options. Also prefers google.

  • Jake

    Absolute dealbreaker for me. One thing I’ve grown to like about Android with the Droid 1 and the Droid X is the integration of the varous Google services. I can seamlessly go from doing a search to finding reviews of local businesses, to calling said business through Google Voice, to adding its contact information to my contacts, to starring the location in maps to navigation to its location, to leaving my own review and Buzzing about it, etc., etc., etc. And this information integrates with my Google experience on my PC. Forcing Bing as the search engine in this device introduces fragmentation to my workflow. Boo Verizon.

  • armdroid

    It would definitely be a deal breaker for me if I was in the market for a new phone. As mentioned before, Android is all about choices and when you take that away it really isn’t a true Android phone. There are to many great Android phones out there now to be restrictions on one (this isn’t Apple). The Droid Incredible and the Droid X are great phones and you can have Bing or Bang or what ever else you want on it.

  • AlanM

    It is absolutely a deal breaker. Verizon needs to realize that free access to web (and other) services is a cornerstone of their business. I am glad I have a Droid X with Google search – it has served me well. If they took that away from me, I would have to find a way to convert to another provider as quickly as possible. This is not negotiable.

  • Leroy

    I have had problems with Microsoft’s “No Choice” agreements in the past. I would avoid that phone like the plague.

  • bstr

    not a deal breaker. I just hope MS didn’t pay too much to be the exclusive search engine. We all know the first hack every owner performs will be to push bing aside.

  • namebrandon

    “To be fair, we’ve not received our review model yet. …. Further, there is no option to download and install an alternate. No Yahoo! or Google for you. “

    If you haven’t received a review unit, how (and why) are you making these statements as if they’re facts? It’s a silly point, and it’s like not buying a great PC because it comes with MS Works, and not MS Office. It remains to be seen how easily Bing can be replaced with Google. I’m sure within a day or two how to do this will be published and people can then decide for themselves.

    “Further, recent studies have shown that more people prefer even Yahoo! over Bing.”

    Are you going to link to a source for that, or are we just taking your word for it?

    I like the site, and you have some good content, but there needs to be more un-biased, factual reporting, and less “Bing is bad, therefore the Fascinate must be bad” type of reporting.
    Keep in mind, some people are really making decisions based on what they read here. You owe it to those people to give them the facts.

    • BogartOfElCajon

      AGREE!

      But first impression about the Fascinate if all things are true… BOOO on Verizon! The reason why I switch from iPhone to Android (Nexus One) is because of restriction, restrictions, restrictions. If I wanted restrictions, I would have stayed with Apple.
      Keep doing this Verizon, I actually wanted you to. Restrict every phone you provide to your customer. I’d like to see customers switching out of your network.

    • opiate46

      He posted it because Engadget and Gizmodo both DID get review phones and they both posted it. If you want super-popular Android news you should be going there as well as here. I like Androidguys for all the stuff they post that the big boys don’t.

  • pvgr

    no deal breaker for me thats why there is XDA forums. I personally think this phone takes better pictures then the X iv used both and i prefer the options and personalization that samsung offers over moto. I do think Verizon locking down preferences has always been annoying and they should have an option to change it per the clients preference. I personally do not like verizon but since its the only one that gives me the best coverage where i live i have to adjust to it. I prefer ATT or Tmo but i hate that gsm signals gets so week in certain buildings or once you go out of a town or freeway.

  • http://www.androiddose.com Aaron Buckner

    Yeah, I’d have to agree. Unless you are planning on Rooting and running a custom ROM that has Google Search this phone is a complete #TrevorFail

    • anon

      You probably don’t have to install a custom rom, just root. And if it’s anything like other galaxy s models, it will be trivially easy to root it.

  • Sam Martinez

    I tried Bing out as the the default search in my browser for a few weeks. I didn’t care for it much. It looks good and loads quikly but I didn’t find the seach results to be particularly usefull. I am back to Google now.

  • http://google.com Logan

    Bing as the default is completely fine. If you (Verizon/Samsung) want to default it to askjeeves or whatever they’re calling themselves these days, you should be able to do it. But locking users into the default search engine is a horrible play.

    People will generally fall into two camps. First, the people that see a search box and say, “Oh, neat, I’m going to search for XYZ!” They’ll go on their merry way not knowing or caring for anything else. The second group are the people that see the search box, see Bing’s logo, and say, “Oh, Bing, that’s cool and all, but I want to search with altavista or dogpile or the search engine i run on a box in my basement… oh… there’s no option to change from Bing. That sucks.”

    Group one will use the default and not care. That’s where you make your money. Group two wont buy the phone because they can’t change the default engine. That’s where you *should* be making your evangelists.

    With neither group is defaulting to Bing an issue, but your power users, group two, will definitely care that they’re being locked into a choice they didn’t want, and as a result they won’t buy your products and wont talk them up to their group one friends, which makes you less money in the end.

  • http://bigfraggingdeal.com Drew

    I’ve been waiting for MONTHS to buy a Fascinate, since I’m in love with that Super AMOLED screen. This is a complete and utter deal-breaker, and it annoys me to no end. Yes, Bing search could be removed after Rooting the phone, but I’m a rooting novice, and I’d rather not rely on that.

    Now, my decision is between the Epic 4G and the Droid X. Any Galaxy S owners/Droid X owners want to help me out? Is the S-AMOLED really good enough to base my purchase on? (I also feel, from looking briefly at both phones, that TouchWiz might be better for me than Motoblur).

    • Usman

      Can’t go wrong with either of those phones… but given the savings on your monthly plan and the outstanding screen, I’d go with the Epic 4G on Sprint.

  • jason

    Yes, Deal breaker, I agree with what was said above, if I wanted shitty Bing, I would get a WM phone! Android IS Google, AT LEAST, give me the choice!

  • Usman

    Definitely a deal breaker for me. Though I should point out, I would simply use http://www.google.com from the browser to bypass this idiotic move by Verizon and Samsung.

  • meanmcclean

    Not an android phone without Google search. Big Red crippled the device probably not to piss off Moto and Droid sales. All other Android devices on Verizon’s network are code named Droid “whatever”, this one is not……??????

    • meanmcclean

      This really kind of irritates me. This is like using Windows Media player as the default music option on an IPhone.. How ridiculous.

  • diar

    Maybe I’m missing something. Can’t you just delete the Bing widget from the homescreen, download Google Search from the Market and then add the Google widget to the homescreen? Or are you saying that it blocks Google Search from being installed? If so, that’s a major dealbreaker on principle alone, not to mention that I like being able to have my search history automatically synced between my desktop, laptop and phone.

    • opiate46

      The rumor is that once 2.2 is introduced to the Galaxy phones, then downloading the Google widget will be possible. This however, might not stop Verizon from blocking the download – sort of like how Skype is only available to Verizon customers.

  • futurejohn

    I’m all for customization and differentiation, but only when it actually benefits the device. It really makes no sense, unless you are Verizon’s bank account, to be so restrictive. I wasn’t going to get the phone anyway, but now I’m also going to tell people to not get it. Take that Microsoft, Verizon, and Fascism.

  • Milind

    Absolutely a deal breaker. I don’t have a problem with Verizon striking a deal with MS to put Bing as the default. But not allowing a choice to switch to Google simply isn’t going to work. And it’s not just Bing Search. It’s the same with the Maps apparently. You can always download Google Maps from the Market, but apparently you have to jump through hoops to make it the default (don’t know why – since I run Brut’s modified Google Maps and Navigation). If that’s really true, there is simply no way I’d buy this phone.

  • Kasuo

    I was considering switching to Verizon once it came count. I love the rest of the Galaxy S phones, but limiting my search options to Bing is crap. ‘Tiss the reason I really don’t like using AT&T’s Backflip – it breaks the ability to search everything at once (phone, contacts, emails, internet). I may still consider it once the hacking community has removed Bing, but until then Verizon’s Galaxy S is not on the radar.

  • scott8357

    Was primed to get this phone for my wife but bing is a deal breaker for me…still a chance I will buy but will have to wait for the hacks now

  • Tim

    Pretty much a deal breaker for me as well. I definitely think the search provider should be free to change, but do the other Android phones allow for it to be change away from Google? I honestly never looked on my G1 but I don’t see a way to use a different search in the native browser and of course I don’t have access to the Bing widget. What about other phones? I just found it interesting that me being “free to change” wasn’t so important until I didn’t like the default (ala Bing on the new Fascinate).

  • TtWEAK

    I’ve been waiting for the Fascinate ever since I went into Verizon ready to buy an Incredible and they were out. I really don’t see this as a deal breaker, I had planned on looking into rooting whichever phone I got, and this just pushes me a little more in that direction.

    Looking at the few reviews that have actually handled the phone. It seems the switch to Bing has soured the overall sentiment of this phone. Which is good in a way, but to pick your phone based on a widget or a default homepage just seems to be a little weird. I look at the hardware first, because that is what were really buying, and this phone blows away anything Verizon has to offer.

    I think a few software updates, especially getting Froyo, will be what makes this phone really showcase it’s talents. I’m buying this phone intending to have it for at least 2 years, it’s bound to get more polished, and when minor issues are fixed a few months down the line. Otherwise, I’ll just install something better. Either way, I’ll be happy that I’m not stuck with something else.

    This would however, make me choose Sprint over Verizon. If I had that luxury. The fact Sprint was able to take the same phone and make it ten times better than the geniuses at Verizon just proves they are at least trying to please their customers. This after the X was supposed to be the answer to the Evo. I just don’t get what Verizon is doing. I wish I could switch, Sprint even has better plans. I hope those that can, do. Maybe then Verizon will step up it’s game.

  • Riddlin

    Why would this be a deal breaker? Its a search engine. I guess I have a computer for my search engine needs. Sure I use the one on my phone once in a while, but I have used them both and there isnt much difference. Root your phone if you dont like it and get whatever you wish. Plus the this phone is buy one get one free on Verizon. Bingo.

  • PhineasJW

    Folks, if you believe in the spirit of Android, this has to be a 100% deal breaker.

    Verizon sold their search business to the highest bidder and completely locked their customers out of the decision.

    If I wanted NO CHOICE I’d have already bought an iPhone.

    Stay smart. Vote with your dollars.

  • Dave Yaeck

    Not a deal breaker for me. I’m sooo looking forward to this phone and the ability to make my own decisions. Is Bing all that bad… I don’t think so. If so then Verizon would not have gone with them. Do I like that you can’t choose. No, but in all of this I think we are missing the main point. IT’S A PHONE people, not a computer. As long as it makes calls and accesses the things I need then fine by me. What is good is that you can use Google Maps at least.

    With all this Hub Bub about it, I bet you in two months or less there will be an update that fixes all of this.

    • diar

      Are you listening to yourself or reading what you type? This is the defeatist, beaten-wife type of thinking typical of Apple fanboys.

      “Is Bing all that bad… I don’t think so. If so then Verizon would not have gone with them.”

      Who cares what Verizon wants or thinks of either app? The consumer should have the choice. Period. Bing is a crap app that a) doesn’t have universal search b) doesn’t use Google’s search history feature and c) likely won’t be compatible with Google Instant, the new real-time search feature.

      “Do I like that you can’t choose. No, but in all of this I think we are missing the main point. IT’S A PHONE people…..”

      Exactly. The consumer’s phone who should be able to do what they want with it, within reason. I say choosing your search provider, which you can do on a desktop, is reasonable.

      “What is good is that you can use Google Maps at least.”

      This is the most sad comment. You actually think they’re doing you a favor by allowing you access to a certain program. You almost sound grateful. This is Steve Jobs-type dementia. I don’t care what VZW chooses as default programs, but blocking me from installing what I want won’t be tolerated.

      I almost want to just leave and get the Epic 4G today just for the principle. I have the original Droid and love it. I was planning on upgrading after I saw the Droids VZW unveiled this fall, but if this Bing deal is universal, I’m jumping to Sprint.

  • Dara Parsavand

    Deal Breaker. I have an iPhone (3G) now and I’m done with closed phones. When my contract is up in December, I’ll start looking at all truly open phone options, which means I must be able to download third party code (or write my own) and put it on the phone, and I must be able to configure the phone to be nearly equivalent to a stock Android system (2.2 or if I wait long enough, 3.0). If there aren’t many good Android options by December/January, I’ll consider waiting for Meego on an N9 or something. But there is no way I’m voting with my dollars again as poorly as I did last time (long story).

    And here I thought Verizon was setting one of the better examples on leaving their high end phones mostly open. Oh well, I have no qualms about switching to T-mobile or Sprint instead (I’m obviously not staying with AT&T the way they are acting on their Android lineup – their email responses to my complaints have been pathetic).

  • Eric

    Deal Breaker for me as well. I was waiting on this sucker because my friend has the Sprint version. Awesome phone, but with no choice of Google as my preferred search engine, this completely eliminates the possibility of me buying this phone. Verizon should have done more research before implementing this method. This type of “proprietary” behavior smacks of the mothership Apple and it’s proprietary policies. Too bad for Verizon.

  • Jeff

    Bing? No other choice? Well I have one: ten years is enough Verizon for me. My contract is up in two months. Time to spend my $170mo somewhere else.

    • http://bigfraggingdeal.com Drew

      Damn skippy. Been a (happy) VW customer since my first cell. Now switching. Not that the Fascinate won’t be a good phone… I’m sure it would be. But now I know there are better options available.

  • AJ

    I have no plans to get this phone (since I have the beautiful Captivate with AT&T), but this would not be a deal breaker for me most likely. While I do think it ruins the spirit of the openness of Android, if it’s a good phone with good features, it’s simply a good phone that utilizes Bing instead of Google. The general public won’t care whether it uses Bing or Google, and the tech-savvy will root it and put on Google.

    It is a little confusing though…why use Android and then not use Google for your default search? That doesn’t make sense to me.

  • gar1t

    Therapy (parody of this situation… will make you laugh):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbOfnj67ZwM

    WARNING: NSFW language and humor.

  • http://Non Ben

    Install dolphin browser from the market. Problem solved. Duh??

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  • PeB

    I love Google and hate that Verizon makes me log out of Explorer each time I want to use Google.  I NEVER use Bing – don’t like it.  What disturbs me most is not having a choice which seems to be what’s happening all over once a business gets “too big to fail!”  Do we have to learn the “monopolies are bad for consumers” all over again?!?