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FAST Into New Mobile Search

Searching from a mobile device is about to get a whole lot easier, thanks to a new mobile search service from FAST. Called "msearch," the service promises to provide mobile users relevant search results from within their carrier's networks, including applications such as ringtones.

Fast Search & Transfer (FAST) was the company and the technology that powered one-time search engine darling Alltheweb.com, which was bought by Overture in 2003.

The msearch initiative is based on FAST's Enterprise Search Platform (FAST ESP) and empowers mobile carriers to deliver search results from within their own network's content as well as going outside of their network when appropriate to deliver relevant results.

Mobile carriers control msearch through a set of management tools for carriers, which allows them to customize and actively monitor and track how their mobile search tools are perfoming with end users.

"Ring tones, images, music and games are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the content mobile users will want to search for and download onto their mobile applications," said Ali I. Riaz, FAST's chief operating officer. "Search has become the number one way of navigating the Internet, and now FAST mSearch will enable people to also find the content and information they are looking for on their mobile devices."

The mSearch tool has already been adopted by Europe's Vodafone. Michael Brady, senior director of mobile solutions at FAST, told internetnews.com that the mSearch offering is a more attractive option than a search tool like Google for mobile carriers. Brady explained that msearch works within the mobile carriers' own brand and does not have any direct FAST branding, so the carrier maintains the full end user relationship.

"FAST has no desire to brand the search," Brady said. The goal for the new msearch service is ubiquity amongst mobile carriers. "We want to be the defacto standard for search on mobile devices," Brady added.

As mobile phone services continue to proliferate the need for mobile search engines is seen by at least one analyst as a potential killer application.

Mobile Search Engines have a potential to become a killer application, given the fact that mobile search can leverage the subscriber's personal information that mobile networks already have, said XJ Wang, senior analyst, in the Yankee Group's Wireless/Mobile Technologies practice. "Like traditional Internet search applications, Mobile Search will drive higher wireless Internet usage and create more opportunities for mobile commerce."



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