Yahoo Not Sitting Still on Mobile

Yahoo continues firing on all cylinders in the mobile area despite the looming presence of Microsoft’s aggressive moves to acquire the Web giant.

Today, Yahoo announced a major push for its forthcoming oneConnect service and an agreement with T-Mobile International.

The T-Mobile deal makes Yahoo’s oneSearch the exclusive mobile search service in 11 European markets served by T-Mobile, beginning March 31.

[cob:Related_Articles]Yahoo’s upcoming oneConnect service for mobile phone users, due out this spring as part of the company’s Go 3.0 mobile portal, combines a number of communications tools like e-mail, instant messaging, text messaging and social networks.

“oneConnect is a very promising and I’m not surprised Yahoo is moving ahead,” Gartner analyst Mike McGuire told “Yahoo can’t be paralyzed by what Microsoft says it wants to do — it has these developments and deals in place and as [CEO] Jerry Yang has said to his employees, they have to focus on what they need to work on.”

For Yahoo, that involves talking up oneConnect at the industry’s big Mobile World Congress, taking place this week in Barcelona, Spain.

Integration is the key feature of the offering. Users will be able sync information from social and professional networks with contact info. One feature, called “Pulse,” shows a real-time status update of social network contacts such as recent photo uploads.

Additionally, the services’ open architecture is designed to help third-party developers make their services readily available to oneConnect users. Yahoo said other companies’ messaging service will be able to use the systems’ open APIs to plug into the messaging features.

As a result, Yahoo said it would even allow rival companies’ instant messaging systems — such as AOL Instant Messenger, Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger and Google Talk — to link with oneConnect.

Yahoo’s aggressive plans in the mobile space have won it approval among some industry-watchers. In a report written last month, IDC researchers Karsten Weide and Scott Ellison were bullish on many aspects of the company’s strategy.

Yahoo Go and oneConnect have been “conceived in the spirit of open access,” the IDC report read. “They are agnostic of operating systems, devices and carrier networks.”

By contrast, IDC notes, Google’s Android operating system only runs on Android phones, which are not expected to be available until later this year.

Weide and Ellison also credited Yahoo for being forward-looking with the ad revenue-sharing plan it has for its mobile partners.

While advertising in the mobile space is relatively small now, the research group said it believes it could become one of the most important, and lucrative, Internet growth sectors for years to come.

Mobile advertising revenue was $347 million in the U.S. in 2007, according to IDC estimates. The research firm forecast that total could grow to $4 billion by 2011.

In light of a possible acquisition by Microsoft and the potential for product overlap should the two merge, Gartner’s McGuire said it’s too early to say what either would be forced to shelve.

“I’m sure there will be some hard meetings if the deal goes through,” McGuire said. “They’ll just have to look at who has the bigger lead in the market and the better technology and go from there.”

In the T-Mobile deal, the two companies said they’ve entered into a “strategic partnership” to bring more mobile services to the phone provider’s customers. Specifically, Flickr, Messenger, Mail, Weather and Finance are among Yahoo services T-Mobile said it plans to offer its customers in the future.

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