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Google and Yahoo step up mobile ambitions

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Again, this is a role that carriers or even handset makers could have fulfilled in the past, but have failed to do so, with piecemeal offerings that will now be subsumed by offerings transferring from the PC internet world – threatening to make those PC-focused brands dominant over those of the mobile specialists.

Yahoo Go Mobile allows users to access their online content via wireless devices, initially the Nokia Series 60 smartphones, which are heavily geared to open internet access. The service offers a streamlined version of the links available to Yahoo users on a PC, reducing the main menu content into major categories such as search, mail, news and calendar.

This will be an element of a broader Yahoo Go platform to extend the user interface and personalized services across multiple devices, from televisions to handset, with a consistent experience.

Both Yahoo and Google aim to extend their brand, services, environment and advertising revenues across multiple platforms in this way, not only boosting their finances but challenging Microsoft’s position at the heart of the end user online experience. But Google seems prepared to stray further from its core skills in its quest and could enter the wireless network and hardware businesses, also options for Microsoft.

Future Google moves

There is intense speculation that Google will create a Windowsfree, Google branded low cost PC – which could spawn other devices, even cellphones, or a home entertainment center, similar to a Windows Media Center or Mac Mini, integrating televisions, phones and computers. The key would be to provide the fundamental software functions itself, and Google is already after patents in key areas. In November, research firm Classified Intelligence revealed a patent application for Google Automat, which would support a payment mechanism for consumer-to-business online transactions. The search giant also hopes to patent its own digital rights management system. This combination could provide a compelling platform and revenue stream for sharing with content providers on cellphones and other devices.

Another interesting patent awarded recently to Google was one accelerating data transmission on a CDMA network using a “short, mismatched antenna”. Although the company has been moving towards owning networks to expand access to its services – with bids to build municipal Wi-Fi metrozones in some US cities, and the acquisition of fiber backhaul assets – this new patent is the first clear indication of Google seeking to influence the development of wireless technologies themselves, in order to support its key applications, such as fast search, more effectively and continue to drive advertising revenues.

Copyright © 2006, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

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