Web search giants Google and Yahoo both announced new interests in mobile on the same day last month.
The two businesses are obviously aiming to extend their well-known brands and so boost their advertising revenues. But their approaches are rather different.
Yahoo is simply increasing the range of platforms on which its core directory-search product is available. Yahoo Go Mobile allows users to access a streamlined version of the links available to Yahoo’s PC users content – search, mail, news and calendar – via devices which are heavily geared to open internet access (which initially means Nokia Symbian 60 smartphones).
There’s a deal with Nokia where consumers in 10 countries across Europe and Asia who buy selected 6630, 6680, 6681 and N70 phones will find that Yahoo Go Mobile is preinstalled. Other consumers can download the application directly on to those devices from http://go.yahoo.com.
But Google has much broader ambitions, and the bare announcement has broader implications.
Basically, selected Motorola handsets will have a Google button for single-key access to the search engine (Motorola has also signed up to preinstall Yahoo Go Mobile on some handsets). Google has a three-year deal with Motorola, which should be long enough to test the waters for increasing network traffic and stimulating operator interest. The agreement doesn’t preclude Google from doing similar deals with other handset makers.
Google is working hard to persuade networks and handset makers to adopt Google as the opening display on users’ phones. As well as the Motorola deal, which goes halfway to that goal, Google has persuaded T-Mobile in Germany who has made the Google home page its start-up screen.
Google has also introduced a version of the Google home page tailored for mobile and capable of being customised by users. The Google Personalized Home Page will allow consumers to conduct web searches, check their Gmail email, read news headlines, and get local weather reports from a single page. Initially available only in the States, it will be available internationally later this year.
And Google has struck a deal to bundle support for Google Talk and the Google Local Maps application into RIM’s Blackberry devices in the States.