Network operators to create mobile search engine

Desperately seeking revenue

A consortium of network operators are banding together to back their own mobile internet search, according to The Telegraph.

Vodafone, France Telecom, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Hutchison Whampoa, Telecom Italia, and Cingular are listed to be involved in secret discussions to take place at 3GSM next week, with the intention of agreeing a combined search strategy.

The idea that everyone would be surfing the web from their mobile phones, if only they had a decent search engine, continues to be widely believed, despite services such as Google PDA, Google WAP, and Google .mobi already providing perfectly adequate search capabilities. Not to mention the search clients built into the Nokia N-Series and Samsung handsets, which offer easy access to internet search engines.

The lack of suitable content is so marked that dotMobi, which manages the .mobi top level domain, is now offering free site-building software to anyone who registers a domain. The software comes from Akmin, and is based on its already-free mobiSiteGalore online service.

The real question mark over the mobile internet is what problem it solves - being able to create sites is a good start, but even now no one is sure what content users want on the move.

While voice revenue remains static, and customers increasingly push for flat-rate data, network operators will be looking for better ways to make money from their data capabilities.

It is possible that this new consortium will do a deal with Google, Yahoo!, or similar to share advertising revenue, but the real question is if the network operators are arrogant enough to think they can do better - and the answer is they probably are. ®

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