Motorola Android-based Mobile Devices to Use Bing

Motorola and Microsoft said on Thursday that the mobile handset maker will bundle the software giant's Bing search engine with its Android-based phones on a global basis.

In a joint statement, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Motorola (NYSE: MOT) said that Android phones with Bing onboard will begin shipping in China first -- and soon.

"This new offering, launching in China on smartphones in Q1, will provide consumers a choice when using search and map functions on their Android-based devices," the companies said.

Android is Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) smartphone operating system, which powers several smartphones offered by Motorola. Left unsaid in Microsoft and Motorola's announcement was the suggestion of a connection to Google's recent contretemps with the Chinese government regarding censorship in the People's Republic.

Google has been going toe-to-toe with China over search results censorship since early this year, when the company threatened to cease its operations in that country if the government does not relax its Internet filtering policies. Google CEO Eric Schmidt said Wednesday that he expects something to occur "soon" regarding his company's standoff with Chinese officials.

Even so, that is likely to not substantively change the Bing deal with Motorola.

Microsoft officials declined to discuss the deal beyond what is contained in the joint statement.

"We are pleased to expand our long-standing relationship with Motorola to bring powerful Bing location-based services to Motorola's innovative new mobile devices, providing consumers with more choice and flexibility in mobile search," Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of Microsoft's Online Services Division, said in the statement.

Motorola officials were not immediately reachable in time for publication.

According to the two companies, Bing capabilities will initially be available in China pre-loaded on new phones or via over-the-air updates for handsets already in the marketplace.

Motorola announced last month that it will split itself into two separate companies in 2011 -- one focused on mobile devices and home businesses, and the other on enterprise mobility solutions and networks.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.