Yahoo's beta version of its Go For Mobile 2.0 is now available and consumers -- at least those that own either Motorola's new MotoRazr maxx V6 and MotoRazr V3xx devices -- are starting to download it. Yahoo's oneSearch search engine -- designed to recognize the intent of a search term and present relevant content on the results page -- is key among the new features in this version.
Other highlights include local listings, direct connections to news, sports, entertainment, weather and finance content, photo sharing and better email synchronisation.
At some point over the next six months, Yahoo Go 2.0 will come pre-loaded on certain Motorola phones. The company also said that consumers will also be able to download Yahoo Go 2.0 on approximately 70 other mobile devices and be able to use it on most wireless networks.
International carriers such as 3 Group (available in the United Kingdom, Italy, Denmark, Ireland and Sweden), Bharti Airtel, DiGi Telecommunications, Globe Telecom, Hutchison India, Idea Cellular, Rogers Wireless, Smart Communications and Taiwan Mobile will be included.
"Yahoo intends to be the No. 1 mobile Internet player globally," said Marco Boerries, senior vice president of connected life for Yahoo.
Carriers Getting Nervous
With this version, Yahoo is making a serious run for the mobile search and related content market which, is poised to explode, potentially shoving established players -- namely the carriers -- into the sidelines.
"Mobile phones subscribers are a bigger market than computers," Matt Booth, senior research analyst for the Kelsey Group, told TechNewsWorld. "Carriers up until recently have taken their control of the market for granted."
Over the last six months or so, he said, there have been some emerging competitive threats that could bypass carriers grip on this market -- a situation that Booth likens to carriers' failure to capitalize on the ringtones market several years ago.
One sign Booth points to is the fast development of free directory services, a high margin business for carriers that typically brings in between US$1 to $3 per call depending on the market, while costing 16 cents to deliver.
The business model -- which has been attracting a great deal of attention lately, including from Google, Booth said -- is based on audio advertising wrapped around this free service.
"This is making carriers a little nervous and pushing the dialog around mobile search further ahead," he said.
Block and Tackle
Indeed, Iain Gillott, founder of iGillottResearch, said he is certain some of the carriers will block Yahoo's and Google's mobile offerings -- something that is perfectly legal.
"These contracts typically say the carrier will allow access to content at their discretion and can block content they deem to be inappropriate," he told TechNewsWorld.
Carriers have an edge in that most consumers -- at least right now -- don't shop for cell phones with mobile search as a big criteria, he added.
That is likely to change, however, as the phones continue to become more high-end and more mobile-specific content is developed independent of the carriers.
There are other challenges as well that need to be met before mobile search is able to truly take off, including cheaper and greater availability of Global Positioning System-enabled cellular phones that can easily handle back-end services. Booth estimates the U.S. market is about two to three years behind Europe in this regard.