The top executives at China Mobile (Hong Kong) and Google have discussed how to make Internet search capabilities available to mobile-phone users, an executive confirmed Friday.
During a press conference Thursday, Wang Jianzhou, the chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of China Mobile, revealed he had twice met with Google CEO Eric Schmidt to discuss the possibility of moving Internet search from fixed-line Internet connections to mobile phones, said Rainie Lei, a China Mobile spokeswoman.
At this point, the two companies have no plans to introduce a mobile search service, Lei said. “It’s in the very early stage right now,” she said.
A partnership with China Mobile would be a boost for Google, which once dominated China’s Internet search market but now trails far behind local rival Baidu.com. China Mobile is the country’s largest mobile operator, with 261 million subscribers at the end of March.
China Mobile’s subscriber base is growing quickly, adding more than 4 million new users every month. At the same time, the average monthly revenue earned from each subscriber is falling, from 92 renminbi (US$11.50) to 86 renminbi between December and March.
As China’s mobile market grows, handset makers are looking to offer mobile search capabilities. Earlier this year, Nokia teamed up with Baidu to bundle its mobile search application on Nokia handsets, the top-selling brand in China. Baidu is also working with Intel to develop mobile search technology.
Google isn’t far behind. The company has signed deals with several handset makers, including Motorola and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications, and is working with operators in several countries.
Most recently, Japanese operator KDDI announced plans to add a Google search box to its EZWeb mobile Internet service.
IDG News Service’s parent company, International Data Group, holds a stake in Baidu through its venture-capital arm, IDG Ventures.
For related news coverage, read Google, China Mobile Mull Cell Phone Search and Google, Nokia to Release Web-Surfing Device.
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— Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service