Microsoft + Yahoo = iPhone e-mail trouble?

Two years ago, or even six months ago, Microsoft could have bought Yahoo and it probably wouldn’t have mattered a lick to me or you. This morning’s news that Microsoft is aggressively trying to make the deal happen is a little frightening, however, as I think back to that January event where Apple introduced iPhone. And there was that weird little part where Apple announced a partnership with Yahoo for iPhone e-mail—you know, the part where instead of getting a free .Mac account, which everyone would have expected, you get a free Yahoo e-mail account with your iPhone.

Let’s just say Microsoft bought Yahoo. There is probably an ironclad contract in place protecting Apple against a disruption of the Yahoo e-mail service if, say, Microsoft decided that all Yahoo mail accounts were renamed to “yhotmail” accounts or “ynotMicrosoft.com” accounts, or Yahoo Mail just didn’t work properly after an acquisition. So I’ll assume, or at least hope, that Apple’s safe against that.

But does Apple really want Microsoft having any part in the iPhone whatsoever? With access to whatever confidential details Yahoo knows about the product’s functionality, or just bragging rights that their holdings are so ubiquitous that even the iPhone can’t get around them? I’d think not. In any case, I’m hoping that Apple has a Plan B in place (see: free .Mac account) in case this deal actually does go through. No iPhone user is going to cry if Yahoo not-so-mysteriously disappears from the product in favor of an equally good or better solution—all I’m wondering at this point is what they ever brought to the table (Push rather than pull e-mail?) that Apple needed in the first place. Readers, any thoughts?