Google And Yahoo Make Further Moves Into Mobile

from the yahoogle dept

The search giants have been increasing their push into the mobile space for several months, launching new services and making plenty of acquisitions. But both Google and Yahoo took a further plunge today: Google unveiled its first mobile application, a J2ME application for its maps and local search services, while Yahoo will team up with its DSL partner SBC to sell a Yahoo-branded Nokia mobile phone. Google’s application is pretty much what it says: a J2ME front end for its maps and local search, and while it’s simple in nature, it should provide Google with a nice taste of the interoperability problems with various handsets and different operators that plague the mobile world. Users are already saying they can’t get it to work on their particular device or carrier.

Yahoo’s news is a little harder to digest. Though the phone will use the Cingular network, the deal isn’t with the carrier, but its parent, SBC, which seems like an indicator of just how well SBC thinks Cingular is selling data services. SBC has essentially relegated Cingular to a dumb pipe carrying Yahoo’s content, which is precisely what mobile operators have been resisting for quite some time. Access to Yahoo’s content and services now becomes the differentiator; Cingular provides commidity access to the voice and data networks. Yahoo’s approach is also markedly different to Google’s: Google’s mobile efforts focus on the open internet, while Yahoo is focusing on working with handset manufacturers and operators in getting their services built into phones and portals. It’s dangerous for carriers, though: the SBC/Cingular deal makes Yahoo the top brand, and makes access to its services more important than buying service from any particular carrier.

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