CES - Yahoo upgrades mobile suite with search app

Beta version of Yahoo Go for Mobile 2.0 released

Yahoo has released a test upgrade of its services suite for mobile devices, which includes a new search application, as the company keeps trying to extend its products to cell phones.

A beta version of Yahoo Go for Mobile 2.0, unveiled on Monday at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, can be downloaded to more than 70 mobile devices from various vendors worldwide at http://go.yahoo.com. Handset makers supporting Go for Mobile 2.0 include Research In Motion., Motorola, Samsung Electronics Co. and Nokia. The suite can be used on "most" wireless networks, Yahoo officials said.

By the end of the year, Yahoo expects users to be able to download Yahoo Go for Mobile 2.0 onto more than 400 devices, according to Marco Boerries, senior vice president for Yahoo Connected Life.

A key feature of Yahoo Go for Mobile 2.0 is oneSearch, a new search engine designed specifically for mobile devices that, instead of returning a list of Web sites, provides facts related to the query term, according to Boerries. For example, if a user enters the name of a sports team, oneSearch will display relevant game scores, team information, photos, news articles and the like.

In a demonstration, Boerries showed how, if a user types in "pizza," local listings for pizza restaurants will be displayed automatically.

"Consumers want an experience optimized for mobile," Boerries said. "No matter how good the screen gets, no matter how fast it gets ... the mobile phone is different from the PC."

Yahoo Go for Mobile 2.0 also features local maps, news tickers, a mobile version of the Flickr photo management service and e-mail.

Yahoo will provide the Yahoo Go for Mobile 2.0 software for free and make money from advertising and sponsored search results, Boerries said. Ads and sponsored results will be clearly distinguished from results generated by search algorithms, Boerries said.

The mobile business generated by Internet search companies such as Yahoo and Google is dwarfed by PC-based search revenue, according to Takami Kono, vice president of equity global research at Nomura Securities International. But Yahoo is taking necessary steps to make sure it is well positioned in the mobile market, he said.

"Mobile advertising is less than 5 percent of all search advertising revenue, but it should grow at two or three times per year for the next few years," Kono said. "Google makes more money from search advertising, but Yahoo's content is better," he said. Yahoo Go is a good way for the company to leverage its strength, he said.

Yahoo also announced at CES that Opera Software ASA chose it as the exclusive search engine provider for its Opera Mini and Opera Mobile Web browsers, and that Opera plans to adopt oneSearch this quarter.

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