November 19, 2008, 8:23 PM — T-Mobile USA will provide Yahoo's OneSearch search engine on its phones, a Yahoo executive said Wednesday.
T-Mobile is placing a OneSearch button on its phones in a deal that is to be announced soon, said Marco Boerries, executive vice president and head of Yahoo's Connected Life Division, at the Open Mobile Summit conference in San Francisco. The carrier's decision to place a OneSearch button in the software of its subscribers' handsets is a much-needed win for Yahoo as it struggles against Google and Microsoft for search advertising dollars and looks for a successor to outgoing CEO Jerry Yang.
Yahoo's latest partner has a close relationship with Google in at least one area. Last month, T-Mobile USA became the first mobile operator to offer a phone based on Google's Android software platform when it put HTC's G1 handset on sale. T-Mobile could not immediately be reached for comment, and Yahoo's Boerries didn't say specifically whether the OneSearch button would appear on the G1.
Yahoo let Google take away most of its market share in PC search and is working with carriers to make sure the same thing doesn't happen in mobile, Boerries said. So the company is working through mobile operators to get OneSearch set up on their phones in hopes that subscribers will go straight to Yahoo's search engine rather than calling up a competitor's, he said. Yahoo has deals with 26 mobile operators around the world, which have 850 million subscribers, he said.
OneSearch is available by download to users of many phones. However, since mobile users traditionally don't download applications to their phones often, Yahoo can reach more users by preloading the button on their phones.
In March, T-Mobile in Northern and Central Europe dropped Google search for Yahoo, and the U.K. carrier O2 also is a partner, Boerries said. Those deals have helped Yahoo gain a market share of 25 percent in Europe and more than 30 percent in the U.K., he said. The company had "lost all footprint on search" on PCs in Europe, he said.
OneSearch is designed to return useful answers, instead of just a series of links, for easier use on mobile devices, and earlier this year was opened up to allow content from third parties such as reviews site Yelp. Voice search, which just this week became available from Google as an iPhone application, already was available for OneSearch, Boerries said.
In 2009, Yahoo will concentrate on making it easier for advertisers to set up effective mobile advertising, Boerries said. For example, it's hard to make ads look good on a wide variety of mobile devices, and Yahoo wants to help solve that problem, he said. The company is exploring how to give advertisers the tools they need to create the right ad experience for consumers and to reach as many people as they want without having to make deals with many operators, he said.
Mobile search advertising has to be built from the ground up, and not all Web search advertisers will want to make the leap, Boerries said.