Microsoft: Lumia 630 and Lumia 930 Windows Phone owners, Google search is banned for you

If you buy a Lumia 630 or 930 Windows Phone and want to use Google as your default search engine, you're out of luck: Microsoft has disabled that capability in those phones. For better or worse, you're stuck with Bing. Will this come back to bite Microsoft?

The Verge reports that almost all of the first new phones that Nokia is shipping after being taken over by Microsoft, the Lumia 630 and Lumia 930, are shipping without the ability of their owners to use Google search as their default search engine. In a later update, it added that "Some European Lumia 930 / 630 carrier-supported devices have the Google option enabled." On all phones, though, people can always go to the Google Web site to do a search.

Windows Phone has never allowed people to change the behavior of the Windows Phone physical search button, which always defaults to Bing. However, previously people could dig into menus and set Google search as the default search engine for searches launched from the address bar.

No longer, at least on most Lumia 930s and 630s, according to the Verge. And that's a very big mistake. Windows Phone is far from a market leader; in fact, it's languishing well behind Android and iOS in third place. IDC says that it will have only a 3.5% market share by the end of the year, and even that might be optimistic. According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech's latest survey, Windows Phone has minimal market share in the world's two largest smartphone markets: 3.8% in the U.S. and 0.6% in China. In both markets, Windows Phone's share is dropping. Its growth has stalled in Europe as well, where it has an 8.1% market share, slightly up from 7.1% a year ago. But in November 2013, Windows Phone market share in those countries was 10%. So even in Europe, its market share is languishing.

On the other hand, Google owns the search market, with around a 68% worldwide market share. Clearly, many more people want Google search than they want Windows Phones.

Given that, Microsoft is only hurting itself by banning Google search from some Lumia phones. It's one thing to cut out a competitor if you're a market leader. It's another thing entirely to cut them out if you're so far behind you can barely even be considered an also-ran, which is the position Windows Phone is in right now.

So don't be surprised if Microsoft eventually backs off on this one. It's a not-particularly-bright move that should be reversed.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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