AOL's current search deal with Google is set to end in December, and when it expires, there's no guarantee that AOL will stick with the search giant. Today, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong implied that he's weighing his options.
Armstrong didn't go about this in a nasty or even slightly negative way. According to Nicholas Carlson, he just said, "Google's been a great partner. They're obviously going to get first dibs. Microsoft and other people are very interesting partners as well."
Armstrong then continued, "I would expect us to be aggressive about the search deal and for us to be in a partnership that we care about for the next 5 to 10 years."
Google and AOL first sealed a search deal in May of 2002, so such a lengthy arrangement wouldn't be too odd. The difference is that the original deal wasn't scheduled to last through the end of 2010. Armstrong may be pushing for slightly better terms before he settles in with Google for the long haul, then, which would make sense.
Or, just maybe, AOL's CEO is really ready to bet the farm on Bing, given that most people like its performance and Microsoft has deep pockets.