Yahoo Signs Mobile Search Deals with Six Asian Carriers

Yahoo has signed mobile search deals with six Asian cellular operators and will soon move its Go for Mobile 2.0 service out of beta here in the U.S.

Yahoo said its partnerships with the six Asian mobile operators will bring its Yahoo oneSearch service to nearly 100 million subscribers across the Asia-Pacific region. It said the service was first launched in Asia last month and will now be offered via operators serving the Philippines, India, Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan.

That could be big news to mobile-savvy companies in the region as Yahoo continues to work with them to offer cell phone-delivered advertising, said Yahoo spokeswoman Nicole Leverich. “On our oneSearch product, advertisers can buy search terms and the results will show either a traditional search ad, like those you see on a PC, or they could see a banner ad,” she said. “So it really depends on the search term. We work with our advertisers to see what makes the most sense given what they want to accomplish and the audience they want to connect with.”

Leverich said the deals with the six operators mean Yahoo will be the exclusive search provider and, therefore, the exclusive vehicle for search-based advertising. She characterized mobile search marketing as nascent but growing. “It’s a new area,” she said. “We’ve been really focused on mobile advertising over the course of this year and we’re seeing a lot of interest from advertisers… What we’re seeing is advertisers just starting to try it out.”

Yahoo oneSearch provides cellphone users access to news, Web images, financial information, weather conditions, the Flickr photo storage and sharing service, Web and mobile Web sites. It is now available in 14 countries, including the United States.

Meanwhile, Yahoo said it has finished beta testing the United States version of its Go for Mobile 2.0 platform and plans to launch localized beta versions in 13 other countries on Friday. The company initially rolled out the service in the U.S. in January.

In a statement, Marco Boerries, executive vice president of Yahoo’s Connected Life Division, said the beta version enjoyed “tremendous consumer response.” He said it should result in “broader adoption of the mobile Internet” because it speeds and enhances wireless Web functionality.

The new version of Yahoo Go 2.0 will be available on more than 200 mobile phones in the US by the end of July and more than 400 by end of year, said Yahoo. It will be pre-loaded on new devices from Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, LG and HTC that will go for sale later in the year.

Among the enhancements listed by Yahoo: greatly increased speed, “including substantially reduced loading time;” better e-mail that includes the ability to read more types of attachments; better maps, including both satellite and hybrid versions, traffic conditions and optional GPS integration on some devices; one-click access to address book, calendar and other functions; and better search results through Yahoo oneSearch.

People in Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, Thailand and Vietnam will be able to download localized beta versions of the service on Friday. Yahoo said the beta versions “will have much of the functionality as the U.S. version.”

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