New York — The popular American Internet company Yahoo! Inc. and Latin America’s leading mobile phone company “America Movil,” announced on Thursday that they have struck a deal to provide mobile Web services to 16 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The agreement calls for Yahoo’s oneSearch service to be the default on America Movil’s wireless carriers’ portals. Yahoo is also to offer localized versions of its oneSearch service for each region, while other Yahoo services are also likely to be added in coming months.
The partnership is the largest of the 21 search deals Yahoo has announced this year with mobile phone operators, the Sunnyvale, California Company said.
Mexico City-based America Movil has 143 million wireless subscribers. Yahoo’s broadest previous deal was with Spain’s Telefonica SA, covering up to 100 million subscribers in several European and Latin American markets.
Once Yahoo gets the service up and running with America Movil and its subsidiaries, it will have the dominant share in the Latin American mobile-search market, according Yahoo spokesman Cory Pforzheimer.
“We are continuously expanding our global presence for mobile search, Pforzheimer,” said in a statement. “Our goal is to connect a billion people to Yahoo services through their mobile phone.”
“This deal happens to be the largest of its kind by Yahoo which is competing with MSN and Google to expand their presence in the mobile services market.”
Yahoo is racing to attract subscribers to Internet services delivered via mobile phones, rather than computer browsers. The company launched its oneSearch Web service in January 2007 in the United States.
Last month, Yahoo made oneSearch available for download to mobile subscribers in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, irrespective of their carrier.
Yahoo bills its oneSearch as a smarter way to retrieve information on the mobile device. Results are refined for location, so a search for “New York City” will retrieve information about local traffic, weather and news, in addition to a link to explore the Web with the search term.
“Search results are presented with the limitations of the small screen in mind, so users do not have to wade through a series of PC links to access content.”
The service lets users search the Web on the first screen they call up, unlike browsers designed for computer users, which force phone users to navigate through several screens.
It also provides quick access to Mobile Web sites, Yahoo’s Flickr photo-sharing service and other content.
“We will be working with each country to customize the product for mobile search,’ Pforzheimer said, adding that Yahoo will work with America Movil’s subsidiaries to tailor the oneSearch application to deliver content that conforms to the linguistic nuances of the countries throughout Latin America.
Unlike its Silicon Valley rival Google Inc., which recently unveiled plans to build a mobile phone operating system, Yahoo has said it is focusing on mobile advertising deals and does not plan to get into software design of phones.
“Yahoo is in active talks with all the major U.S. carriers, but has yet to reach an agreement with any to deliver oneSearch as a default setting.”
The terms of the America Movil deal were not disclosed, but Pforzheimer said that it is structured as a multi-year revenue-sharing agreement between the two companies.