Yahoo Strikes Mobile Deal With Microsoft

— September 06, 2006

In a move to further extend its reach beyond the desktop, Yahoo on Wednesday said it is making its suite of mobile applications available for phones using Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system.

Users of phones such as the Motorola Q can now tap into Yahoo Go for Mobile services, which include mail, search, photos, an address book and a calendar. Yahoo initially launched its Go service earlier this year, hoping to push its brand and personalized Internet content to mobile phone users.

Improving on the number of consumers using Yahoo's services is a critical tactic in an increasingly competitive search landscape, which is currently dominated by Google. Yahoo plans to continue its work to build versions of its Go service for popular mobile platforms.

Yahoo has also signed global distribution deals with leading device manufacturers to reach millions of additional consumers by embedding Yahoo Go for Mobile on select devices. The Microsoft deal, however, opens up a new realm by accommodating operating systems that are going on some of the hottest new wireless devices today.

"Yahoo, Microsoft and the handset manufacturers have a shared interest to enable the adoption of what is known as the mobile Internet," Shiv Bakhshi, director of mobile and WiFi infrastructure at IDC, told TechNewsWorld. "The value of the Internet is that it connects you to all kinds of information but you need a framework in order to do that. These players want to make mobile Internet a seamless experience, which will have a positive impact on the potential usage."

The search portal has also recently announced agreements that put Yahoo Go for Mobile on phones from Research In Motion, Motorola and Nokia. In fact, RIM, the maker of the popular BlackBerry devices, signed a deal earlier this year to include Yahoo in its mobile applications plan.

Yahoo and RIM are supporting enhanced integration with Yahoo Mail accounts for BlackBerry users, such as real-time delivery of email messages sent to their Yahoo Mail accounts and wireless synchronization. The partnership will also synch sent and deleted items as well as read/unread message status. Future development plans will also allow Yahoo users to wirelessly import, modify and synchronize their Yahoo Address Book and Yahoo Calendar entries using their BlackBerry devices.

RIM and Yahoo also partnered to enhance Yahoo Search and Messenger services for the BlackBerry, giving the search giant an audience with millions of wireless users.

Yahoo's maneuvers are well advised, analysts said, because having applications that do not integrate with popular operating systems is not good business. Bakhshi expects to see more mobile alliances with search companies going forward.

"Right now it's a question of signing up alliances because where you stand in life depends on the company you keep. It makes very little sense for anybody to lock in these relationships right now. I don't think these are going to be exclusive deals because people are still trying to figure this out," he noted. "Once that environment stabilizes, then you will see what the relationships are and some real permanency to them."

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