Yahoo Expands Mobile Search Options

Yahoo expanded the search possibilities for users on the go, with its launch of Yahoo SMS Search and enhanced Search on Mobile.

Yahoo short message service (SMS) Search users can send a text message that includes the shortcut term and a parameter such as a zip code, address or ticker symbol.

Available shortcuts are: local information, WiFi hotspot finder, weather, stock quotes, daily horoscopes, dictionary definitions, and zip and area code lookup. They’ll receive a text message with the results in reply. The SMS response from will include a URL linking to Yahoo’s mobile Internet search if more information is needed.

At the same time, Yahoo Search on Mobile was expanded to include WAP 2.0 phones. Wireless application protocol (WAP) is a specification for accessing and displaying information on handheld devices. Previously, Yahoo’s mobile Web search worked only on HTML-enabled handsets. Users must browse to Yahoo’s mobile portal in order to use the search.

Both services give mobile device users shortcuts, minimizing the time they spend inputting text and clicking on links.

The launch follows Yahoo Japan’s start of Yahoo Shopping from mobile phones, offering around two million items available for m-commerce.

“In most of Asia and Europe, people are further along in how they use phones, and it makes sense to offer a fully functioning mobile commerce opportunity in Asia,” said Rob Solomon, vice president and general manager of Yahoo Shopping. “Eventually, it will make sense in this market. This clipping service is just our first foray.”

In January, Yahoo launched its Send to Phone service, letting users deliver information from the Web to their mobile phones. The feature is available for Yahoo Local, Yahoo Maps and Yahoo Shopping.

Solomon said that while e-commerce is increasing, most shopping still happens in retail stores, so connecting store-bound shoppers with Internet information makes sense.

“We know people do a ton of research online, and we want to make it easer to take it with them,” he said. “You used to have to print [out your search results].” Now, users can send info to their phones to take along on the shopping expedition, and get more information via SMS or mobile search.

In the future, Solomon said, Yahoo could add aggregated anonymous information about product info that was sent to phones to help quantify what he called the “halo effect” of online advertising, that is, the phenomenon of consumers doing research online and seeing retailers ads, then completing purchases offline.

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