iPhone OS 4: Google branding removed in Safari search

iLounge has pointed out that the "Google" branded search button in mobile Safari has been renamed "Search" in iPhone OS 4. Is this a sign that Apple is about to dump Google from mobile search? Despite their increasing competition, it's highly unlikely that Apple will entirely eliminate Google from mobile Safari search. Google is still the world's number one search engine by a wide margin; eliminating it from Safari's search function would alienate a lot of users.

So what could the "Google"/"Search" switch mean? Most likely it's that iPhone OS 4 will have search engine options in addition to Google and Yahoo! (like Bing), and Apple wants to have a universal button that reads "search" no matter what engine the user chooses to use. Other possibilities could be that Apple and Google have not agreed on a financial arrangements for Google to be the default search in OS 4 yet and they want Google to know that they'll give default search to the highest bidder.

Of course, there's always another possibility: Apple is launching its own search engine. Sounds like a long shot? Maybe it is, then again who would have ever thought Apple would one day be in the mobile advertising market? Personally, I wouldn't hold my breath for Apple search this year. Apple does a lot of things better that Google (and other competitors), but when it comes to search, Google is still king.

[image via MacRumors]