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AOL Going Mobile With Search

AOL released a beta today that lets users access the company's Web search from handsets, smartphones and PDAs.

The company announced that it is testing a suite of new mobile search services that automatically adapt results pages to mobile screens and give mobile user access to the AOL Search service, Pinpoint Shopping Search and AOL Yellow Pages.

"We are committed to providing people with easy access to the full range of information and services available on the Internet wherever they may go," Himesh Bhise, vice president and general manager, AOL Mobile, America Online, said.

The latest mobile search move by AOL comes as Web companies look to increase business by providing services that can be accessed away from users personal computers.

Greg Sterling, program director of The Kelsey Group, said as of now development of mobile search devices remain in their infancy with small screens, slow speeds and lots of protocols that hamper any practical use.

"Manipulating the cursor for a search on Google or Yahoo is next to impossible," he said. "For some random restaurant search it so much easier to call your friend and say, 'Hey, what's the name of that Mexican place?"

As of now AOL's Mobile Search Services, available only as a public beta test, has the capabilities to allow users search the Web, comparison shop for products and access local listings from anywhere they find a connection.

"AOL is completely committed to mobile space and getting all of AOL's products into the hands of users," Bhise said.

Sterling did say the company had a leg up on others because it was developed in conjunction with Israel-based InfoGin, a mobile technology provider. The company's proprietary mobile transcoding technology automatically adapts Web pages to mobile screens so that pages designed for the desktop can easily be viewed.

Bhise said AOL has "Right-Sized the Internet" for small mobile screens, giving users the power to search or shop for anything they need.

Users can search the Web using words or phrases, much like on the desktop. With Mobile AOL Yellow Pages and Pinpoint Shopping search results are automatically formatted to the user?s mobile screen size and links are clickable, said Bhise.

"We want to give our users service wherever they happen to be," Bhise said. "We are bringing our internet business model into the mobil space."



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