Yahoo Sends Search Aloft

SAN FRANCISCO — Yahoo expanded its search empire
to the mobile arena with the launch of some additional services.

The company was one of the original content providers
for mobile devices running on the Palm or Win CE
platform, a decision Yahoo COO Dan Rosensweig admits was a “premature
start.” This is the first time, however, that mobile users can use the
Yahoo search engine to find stuff.

Now, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Internet media company is redoubling
its efforts to address not only the rapid growth of users accessing
mobile Web content, but also the massive threat of Google .

“The Internet is a very selfish place. You want what you want, when
you want it, how you want it, in the correct language — and you want us to
know exactly what you want and know who you are,” Rosensweig said during his keynote address here at
the CTIA Wireless industry show. “But it is also the most
personal medium. You want to tell everyone all about you. We play to
your selfishness. We’ve taken our expertise in providing
mobile Internet services and our Yahoo Search Technology, and combined
that with our understanding of consumers’ wants and needs.”

The rollout includes access to Yahoo Local, Image and Web search, as
well as quick links to stocks, sports scores and weather. The platform
also includes a modified Yahoo Instant Messaging client and Yahoo Mobile
Games. The software works on any color screen handset and automatically
adjusts itself to QWERTY or numerical keypads. Rosensweig said the
services are a natural extension of Yahoo’s other recent forays this
past year, which include Yahoo Photos and the acquisition
of Music Match.

Initially, Yahoo said it will focus its latest efforts in the
United States on the largest carriers — Sprint (the original
partner), Cingular (which acquired AT&T Wireless), T-Mobile and Verizon
Wireless. Yahoo has even engineered its Mobile service to automatically
dial the handset with the click of a link.

Thad White, director of product marketing for Yahoo Mobile, told
internetnews.com that the services are advertising free for the
moment but that could change depending on the customer response. Yahoo
is also looking at testing the Mobile service for GPS, voice commands
and extending its Local search for Mobile to include Yahoo’s Smart View
functions.

“We are always looking at ways of improving the service,” White said.
“We of course focused on the consumer market, however we expect that
business users will use it as well. At this time, however, we are not
planning on any B2B solutions.”

White said that Yahoo was very aware of the competition, including the
news today that Google acquired
digital mapping specialist Keyhole.

While the basic Google search has been available for sometime, White
said that Google is only now testing
a new SMS service and that it comes nowhere near Yahoo’s offerings.

“Our content on the mobile device mirrors what we offer on the
desktop,” White said. “We’re giving our users the quickest access to the
information they want. That is evident with the advent of RSS
technology, which we’ve added to some of our Yahoo properties.”

White said the pages that show up the best in the new Yahoo Mobile
service are formatted in WAP and HTML.

Viewing mobile through the Yahoo lens, Rosensweig said his company’s
opportunity is great considering 70 percent, or 325 million people, use
some type of Yahoo service on the desktop. Yahoo said its research
indicates that 79 percent of total U.S. site users own a mobile phone,
and they are not afraid to use it.

The company boasts 15 Yahoo products
currently available via mobile phones in the United States and more than 50
carrier and device manufacturer relationships worldwide.

“We are about openness and providing APIs to developers,” Rosensweig
said. This is a major paradigm shift and it impacts everything that
Yahoo does, as it give users more power give them access to take that
content anywhere.”

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