3GSM - Yahoo schmoozes operators, seeks deals

Yahoo is talking with operators at the 3GSM World Congress about partnering for its new mobile search services

Yahoo is schmoozing mobile phone operators at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona in the hopes of enlisting partners for its new mobile search services.

With mobile phones soon expected to push PCs aside as the most popular tool to access the Internet, the company has given mobility a top priority and is taking steps to establish its mobile search engine as the technology of choice for mobile operators, Marco Boerries, senior vice president of Yahoo Connected Life, said Tuesday at a news conference at the mobile phone show in sunny Spain.

A gamma version of the company's new Java-based search application, Yahoo Go for Mobile 2.0, is now available after a beta version was released in January at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, according to Boerries.

The application is designed to help users easily navigate a selection of personal channels for areas such as news, sports, entertainment and maps.

"Mobile search so far hasn't worked because it's been an adaption of PC search," Boerries said. "Mobile users want instant answers" that are intelligently selected for small devices.

A key feature of Yahoo Go for Mobile 2.0 is oneSearch, a new search engine designed specifically for mobile devices. Instead of returning a list of Web sites, the search engine provides facts related to the query term, according to Boerries.

More than 400,000 users have downloaded the beta application to about 100 different devices.

Yahoo is particularly keen to have mobile phone operators and vendors preinstall the application.

On Monday, the company reached a deal with LG Electronics that will bring its brand to the screens of tens of millions of LG cell phone handsets shipped later this year. Under the deal, LG will preload Yahoo services, including Yahoo Go for Mobile 2.0, Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Messenger on phones sold worldwide.

Clearly set on establishing an ad-funded search service on mobile phones similar to its service for PCs, Yahoo said Monday it will start showing mobile display ads on its Yahoo Mobile Web service in 19 countries across Europe, Asia and the Americas. Major advertisers include Intel, PepsiCo and Proctor & Gamble.

The use of ad-funded search services will help mobile phone operators generate revenue that they may want to return to customers in the way of free services, Boerries said. "You can only give something away if you make something," he said. "Mobile advertising will enable this."

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