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Yahoo! launches! mobile! search!

Impressive, but not that impressive

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Last week Yahoo!'s new mobile search, oneSearch, was launched, promising a "...unique and revolutionary mobile internet search facility". It's not easy to see how presenting a list of internet sites can be made unique and revolutionary, but Yahoo! has made the attempt, with some success.

One of features promised back in March was localised results, for example, automatically listing where a film was showing or where to get pizza nearby.

Automatically listing film details would require the search engine to recognise a film title, something which seems beyond the current incarnation of the service even when presented with words like "Hot Fuzz", or "Terabithia".

Getting the location of a mobile user is notoriously difficult, so users are required to enter their location in the search box and the results are just as one would expect from any search engine presented with such text. Yahoo claims that listings will show distance to the restaurant, and a "click to call" button, but these features don't appear to be working yet.

But oneSearch does present normal search results usefully in groups of three, divided into businesses, flickr images, web sites (with the inevitable Wikipedia entry), mobile web sites, images, and news-related images.

Comparing the results to Google's mobile search Yahoo! oneSearch is much prettier thanks to the pictures, though it's unlikely that many mobile searches are looking for graphics and once those are removed there's little to choose between the two engines.

Both companies see searching as a way onto mobile devices and then sell their additional services and thus retain eyeballs for more advertising sales. Yahoo links to ira on-line address book, calender and photo album, while Google adds blogging and Google Maps to the default e-mail, news and search capabilities both companies provide.

One can't help being reminded of the portal strategies adopted by all the search-engine companies, back before Google showed them that customers just wanted quick and accurate searching; and drove most of them out of business.®

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