Yahoo Adds Smarter Mobile Search

April 3, 2008 0

Yahoo Adds Smarter Mobile Search

“Yahoo today becomes the first major search engine to allow people search the Web by talking to a mobile device.”

Las Vegas – Yahoo on Wednesday unveiled enhanced version of its “OneSearch” technology for mobile phones that allows users to initiate searches faster by speaking into their mobile phones. 

The announcement was made at the CTIA trade show here that it says make Version 2.0 voice-enabled searches for Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices that deliver more information to queries than just links.

Yahoo mobile chief Marco Boerries stated his company’s goal is to make millions of Web links more accessible on phones, by tapping deeper into the sites and by enabling consumers to use voice commands to search the Web.

“This is in reality a sea change. This is not just about simple Web links any more,” Boerries, executive vice president of Yahoo’s Connected Life unit, said in an interview ahead of a keynote speech at CTIA, the annual U.S. wireless showcase.

In addition to allowing users to make online queries by saying what they are looking for, the application features an “assistant” for written searches that deduces what people want from the first few letters typed.

“With Yahoo oneSearch 2.0, we are fundamentally changing the way consumers use the Internet on their mobile phones,” said Boerries.

For instance a search for “New York” might bring about subway schedules, or a search for local sushi restaurants could yield available reservations.

The new programs are Yahoo’s hottest approach in its battle with Google and others to dominate the mobile web, which is seen as increasingly important as cellular networks increase their speed and mobile handsets increasingly take on some of the functions of PCs.

The new search component is thought to be the first voice-activated search available via cell phone. The company has already signed partnerships with 29 carriers around the world.

Conventional speech detection services limit possible search topics to certain items using very basic vocabulary. OneSearch allows “wide open” searches for flight listings, locations, Web site names, restaurants, and news or game times.

Beginning on Wednesday, Blackberry users can download voice-enabled oneSearch at m.yahoo.com/voice/. By the end of the year, Yahoo plans to launch the service on 500 different devices and in international markets, he said.

Yahoo is depending on voice technology it has solely licensed from Vlingo Corp., a two-year-old Cambridge, Massachusetts-based start-up. Yahoo also offers a $20 million funding round in Vlingo with existing investors Charles River Ventures and Sigma Partners.

“We have obtained exclusive rights in a company that we believe will change voice search forever,” Boerries said in a statement.

Yahoo anticipates that by 2010, there will be more than four times as many mobile devices in the world than PCs, Boerries said. In time, more people will access the internet through a mobile device than a PC. Today, however, people are 10 times more likely to use a PC than a mobile device.

To avail the voice search software go to mobile.yahoo.com.