Motorola, the world's second-biggest maker of mobile phones, is to embed Yahoo services on tens of millions of phones.
Yahoo is extending its reach into the mobile realm by inking an agreement with wireless technology specialist Motorola that will put a variety of services, including Web search, e-mail, and personal contact lists at the fingertips of phone users.
As per the multi-year deal, mid-priced and high-end Motorola phones will run an integrated set of services known as Yahoo Go for Mobile that includes Yahoo mail, search and address book in a single place, starting early next year, giving anytime access to the Internet portal's most popular communications services.
“We are looking at a broad range of phones,” Bruce Stewart, vice president of business development for Yahoo’s Connected Life business unit, said in a telephonic interview. He, however, declined to disclose names of the specific Motorola models that will feature the service.
Yahoo's deal with Motorola is the second agreement with a major handset maker to use the Yahoo Go platform--a software system it introduced earlier this year designed to make Yahoo services as easy to use on mobile phones and TVs as they have become on computers.
In January, Yahoo announced a deal with Finland's Nokia, the world's largest mobile handset maker, to begin installing Yahoo Go on millions of Nokia phones worldwide.
The Nokia-Yahoo deal covers certain mid-priced and high-end phones in Nokia’s Series 60 and “N” class multimedia phone categories, a Yahoo spokeswoman said.
A single Yahoo Go Nokia model went on sale in the United States through wireless service provider Cingular in February. Five to 10 such Nokia models are available in several European and Asian markets now, Stewart said.
Motorola and Yahoo first hooked up a year ago; the new deal builds on an existing partnership signed last July between the two companies in which Motorola has installed a version of Yahoo Mail locally on certain Motorola phones, enabling connection to Yahoo e-mail by the press of a button.
We feel this gives mobile users the best Web experience on mobile devices, delivering the services people use on the desktop to their phones, company spokesperson Nicole Leverich said. She cited the ability to synchronize phone and PC-based Yahoo address books as a particular advantage of Yahoo Go, which also includes Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Search and Yahoo! Local in a single application.
As part of the latest deal, Motorola will pre-load Yahoo Go for Mobile on handsets it sells worldwide, starting in the first half of 2007.
Laying the Groundwork
Yahoo also has similar deals with Nokia and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion. According to Leverich, the company is working with wireless carriers worldwide as well to push the Yahoo Go platform.
The new ties between Internet companies and hardware makers promise to give consumers quicker access to personal Internet information than is possible on most current phones. Existing phone models require users to make several clicks and wait for a period of time before the phones can connect to the Web.
IDC analyst Sean Ryan noted that Google, Yahoo, AOL and others are pushing into the mobile space to provide yet another entry to their Web sites. "Sales of mobile phones are far above that for PCs, but the mobile industry is just beginning to create a Web surfing experience similar to that of desktop machines and goes beyond text-based content" he said.
Yahoo initiated its partnership with Nokia in March 2004 and first signed up Motorola as a partner in July 2005. Yahoo rival Google Inc. is racing to win similar positioning for its Web services through deals with handset makers and mobile carriers.
"Our goal is to make it easier for phone users to access and consume data by customizing services for those types of devices, which have smaller screens and provide a different type of Web experience" Leverich said. Putting Yahoo Go directly into phones means users can easily get up and running with familiar services, she added.
So, while it may take some time before the number of Web-enabled handhelds reaches critical mass, Yahoo, Google and others are laying the groundwork by establishing ties with device makers and carriers, Ryan said.