by CIO Staff

Internet Giants Set Sights on Wireless

May 08, 20062 mins

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Credit: Getty Images

Google, Yahoo and Microsoft all want to enable their search engines on cellular phones, which they hope will compel users to adopt their other services, such as downloading Google maps and directions and sending Yahoo e-mail and MSN instant messages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Internet giants believe a huge potential market exists for searching online information from cell phones, with almost twice as many cellular devices in use globally as PCs. Internet companies and cell phone service providers have offered basic search capabilities on phones for many years. But these systems are often difficult to use and offer limited or restricted access to the Internet or only to webpages that have been specially “slimmed,” the Journal reports.

Smart phones, which can send e-mail, surf the Internet and download files, are changing how consumers use wireless devices connected to the Internet. Yahoo Go Mobile is being installed on phones sold with service plans from Cingular Wireless, a joint venture between AT&T and BellSouth, according to the Journal.

Google has inked a deal with Vodafone Group, while Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile has made the Google Search feature the first thing users see when they power up their phones. Microsoft’s recent acquisition of MotionBridge gives it a customer base that includes Sprint Nextel and France Telecom’s Orange, the Journal reports.

Cell phone advertising, however, is still a nascent market, with mobile searching generating little revenue. While search advertising on cell phones may be new to North American wireless users, the business models are evolving. In Japan, when users search Google from their cell phones, text ads appear at the top and bottom of search results, which, when clicked, bring users to the advertiser’s website, according to the Journal.

As search engines become better at delivering results relevant to a user’s geographic location, mobile searching will become more compelling. “The leading-edge battleground between us and Google in local search really will come on the phone,” Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told the Journal.

For related news coverage, read Report: Ebay Looks to Microsoft, Yahoo to Fight Google.

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Compiled by Judah Phillips