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First AT&T phone with Google Android will feature Yahoo search

Although Google makes the Android mobile operating system, the search giant's chief competitor, Yahoo, will be the default provider on AT&T's first Android-powered handset, due to be released March 7.

The Motorola Backflip will feature Yahoo search out of the box, though users will be able to manually change the provider to Google if they so choose, according to BusinessWeek. Because the Backflip is not a Google-branded product, like the Nexus One smartphone, the search company declined to comment.

Yahoo spokesman David Katz cited AT&T and Yahoo's "long-standing relationship" for search partnerships. AT&T, the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in the U.S., announced in January that it would release a number of Android devices — the company's first in its line of smartphones — this year.

The Backflip will mark the first time U.S. customers under contract with AT&T will have the option to choose between Android and the iPhone. It was the introduction of Android as a multi-device iPhone competitor that helped to push Google CEO Eric Schmidt from the Apple Board of Directors last August.

The Android operating system indirectly came under fire this week when Apple filed a patent infringement suit against handset maker HTC, which has partnered with Google to create the Nexus One, along with a number of other Android-powered devices. HTC is accused of violating 20 patents related to the iPhone's user interface, underlying architecture and hardware capabilities, including multi-touch.

Some have speculated that Apple chose to sue HTC because an update to the Nexus One recently enabled multi-touch functionality on the smartphone's native applications, including the Web browser and maps. A year ago, HTC also introduced an Android phone with an iPhone-like virtual keyboard.

Google remains the default search provider on Apple's iPhone, though in January a rumor surfaced that Apple and Microsoft were in talks to make Bing the standard on Apple's mobile devices for search and maps. Google has deflected questions about the alleged talks between Apple and Microsoft, stating that it considers Apple to be a "valuable partner," and has no reason to believe that will change.