Yahoo Introduces Yahoo Go 2.0, Mobile Search & Other Apps

Last year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Yahoo Chairman Terry Semel introduced Yahoo Go, an initiative seeking to push and integrate Yahoo content beyond the desktop on mobile devices and TV. According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) the company is going to introduce an upgraded version of Go for mobile today at this year’s CES (Postscript: Yahoo Go 2.0 is now up):

Today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Yahoo plans to significantly step up its attack on the mobile market, based on a piece of software that the company hopes will be widely used on cellphones by many of the roughly 500 million people who access its services from personal computers. The Sunnyvale, Calif., company is hoping that, while second to Google in Web search, it can lead the market for mobile search and associated advertising with a new offering tailored for use on handsets.

Where search engines typically give computer users a list of Web sites, Yahoo is trying to provide more specific answers to cellphone queries so consumers don’t have to click around as much to find what they’re looking for. A search on the word “49ers,” for instance, immediately brings up the San Francisco football team’s scores and schedule, photos, and headlines from two news articles rather than forcing users to jump to other Web sites for such information.

There’s nothing more on the Yahoo site yet about the announcement and the WSJ merely has a screenshot of one of the results pages. So it’s difficult to say much more about the service at this point. It will apparently be ad supported (revenue to be shared with participating carriers who help promote it) and rely on Yahoo user registrations to help personalize and provide location information rather than relying on GPS.

The fact that Yahoo Go requires a download makes it somewhat less accessible than if the service didn’t. According to the WSJ article there haven’t been a great many downloads of Go for mobile to date.

Recently, Yahoo Local and Dash announced a deal to put Yahoo Local content in the car. The new version of Go also promises improved local search on the go, a critical area for mobile.

Mobile local search is an area that Yahoo must and should be a strong player in. And given that Yahoo Mail was the most visited mobile content site last year, according to research firm Telephia, the company has a real opportunity in mobile to gain ground it lost on the desktop.

Postscript: Here’s a demo of the new capabilities.

YellowPages.com Adds 'Send to Mobile'

Joining Yahoo Local, Windows Live Local, Google Maps, and IAC-owned Citysearch and AskCity, YellowPages.com announced a new “send to mobile” feature. The listing and contact details are sent via text to the user’s mobile phone. Here’s a result for the search “Plumbers, New York.” (Send to mobile is on the upper right of each ad.)

To my knowledge (based on a quick check) none of the other major traditional yellow pages sites offer this feature. Eventually it will be standard however.

YellowPages.com also is announcing a newly redesigned WAP site.

Recently YellowPages.com parent AT&T launched ad-supported free directory assistance in the form of 1-800-YellowPages (only in three markets so far). It has a range of ad options for marketers and offers both category search and business name lookups for consumers. This service, though not officially part of YellowPages.com, nonetheless extends the YellowPages.com brand into the mobile realm.

Mobile is going to be a huge driver of local search volumes eventually and any serious local search player will need to have a mobile strategy.

Postscript: Yell.com in the UK (and parent of Yellow Book in the US) corrected us that the company’s site has had send to mobile for “over two years.”

New Mobile Flight Status Tracker By FlightStats

Gary Price reports that FlightStats has added a mobile flight tracking site at http://mobile.flightstats.com/. So for all you holiday season travelers, bookmark this address on your mobile device (I did), to check flight status, departures and arrivals, flight arrivals, airline & airport information, security wait times and more.

Google News Mobile Now Customizable

Via Nathan Weinberg, Steve Rubel finds that you can now customize the news on your Google Mobile News page. A new link that reads “ยป Customize this page” takes you to a page where you can add keyword specific searches to your mobile news page, you can also add or remove news categories on that page, finally, you can order the categories on the page.

I have more screen captures here

Google Partners With China Mobile To Launch Mobile Search

Forbes reports that China Mobile and Google will be launching a mobile search service in 2007. The details are very fuzzy right now, all we know is that a China Mobile representative said something to the effect that they “begun developing their joint mobile search product for launch in 2007.”

This comes a week after Google partnered with Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom and surprisingly also after Google just said they wouldn’t be seeking local partners to grow market share in China.

Postscript January 4, 2006: Google posted the press release just today.

Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom Signs Mobile Deal With Google

Chunghwa Telecom, Google Sign Agreement from the Associated Press reports Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom has signed a mobile deal with Google. Google will provide mobile web search services to Chunghwa’s user base starting this January. According to the story, Chunghwa Telecom is the largest phone company by revenue in Taiwan, with 840,000 3G users and is aiming for 1.5 million in 2007. They have 8 million mobile phone subscribers to-date.

Google & Orange Talking Google Mobile Phone?

The future for Orange could soon be Google in your pocket from The Observer talks about Google and mobile phone operator Orange apparently discussing the creation of a Google branded phone. I can’t feel there might be a bit of hype here leaking from the Orange side. Google has a very tight partnership with Orange competitor T-Mobile in the UK. Google’s preloaded on all those phones as a search default, plastered in T-Mobile brochures and so on. One quote especially makes me dubious:

A source close to the talks told The Observer: ‘Google are software experts and are doing some amazing work compressing data so that the mobile user gets a much better experience. They don’t know so much about mobiles, but they are eager to learn from Orange’s years of experience.’

No, Google’s only been doing things for mobile phones since at least 2001, when they set up the mobile search and page squeezing service many people think is a new thing. Yep, they don’t know so much about mobiles. Thank goodness Orange can come in to educate them.

I’d say Orange has had great success in taking generic phones from people like HTC and redubbing them with the Orange brand (until recently, I was a proud Orange SPV C500 owner, so I’m well familiar with Orange).

Frankly, either my Verizon XV6700 or my T-Mobile MDA Vario II make it easy to surf the web and search with Google (or other providers). So I don’t see a Google-Orange partnership as somehow being a big revolution to improve the experience as described:

But it would have built-in Google software which would dramatically improve on the slow and cumbersome experience of surfing the web from a mobile handset.

We’ll see, of course. I could be wide of the mark, but I would think it’s more likely that Google is looking to do perhaps a deeper deal with Orange that T-Mobile, perhaps by loading up phones with existing Google mobile apps. That’s not quite a revolution, though it would be a boost to Google in the mobile space. Heck, maybe they’ll even consider better support for the Windows Mobile devices they pretty much ignore.

Windows Live Search Beta For Mobile

The Live Search Blog announced the release of Live Search Mobile client for your mobile device. The mobile client allows you to use Windows Live’s “local search, maps, driving directions, and live traffic information.” I have not downloaded it to my Treo, but I like Gizmodo’s Windows Live Search For Mobile vs. Google Maps Mobile write up.