T-Mobile dumps Google for Yahoo

By , IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless

T-Mobile announced on
Tuesday that it will soon begin using Yahoo
as its preferred mobile search provider in Europe, ending the operator's existing
relationship with Google
for mobile search.

The move was seen by many as a minor coup for Yahoo, which is competing with
Google and Microsoft to win the loyalty of a growing number of mobile Internet
users. Others noted that mobile search is in its infancy and said the field
is still wide-open.

When T-Mobile signed its original deal with Google, it made headlines as one
of the earliest partnerships between a mobile operator and a search provider.

"Well done Yahoo, for knocking Google off the Web n Walk home page,"
wrote John Delaney, an analyst for Ovum, commenting on the announcement. Web
n Walk is T-Mobile's mobile Internet offering.

Beginning in March, T-Mobile customers in 11 European countries will see Yahoo's
mobile oneSearch by default on their phones. OneSearch is designed to make it
easy for mobile users to get relevant search results and navigate through different
categories within search results.

The companies plan to offer other Yahoo services to T-Mobile customers, including
Flickr, Messenger, Mail, Weather and Finance. Yahoo now counts 29 operators
around the world as oneSearch customers.

The deal appears to mark a strategy change at T-Mobile. When the operator launched
Web n Walk, the service was designed to mimic the Web by minimizing T-Mobile
branded services and prominently offering Google, Delaney said. Since then it
has evolved to add more T-Mobile services. It's not clear yet which strategy
end-users prefer. "The risk is that T-Mobile will discover that its users
really preferred it when T-Mobile gave them access to the Web, and then got
out of their way," Delaney said.

While the T-Mobile/Yahoo deal is a blow to Google, the search giant had a significant
mobile win of its own this week. Nokia announced on Tuesday that it will add
Google search, in addition to its own search offering, on select phones. Nokia
plans to extend the offering to more phones in the future.

Nokia has begun offering an increasing number of services, such as location-based
maps and social-networking services, which could compete with offerings from
operators. "Nokia is walking a bit of a fine line because they're definitely
moving into what some consider carrier territory," said Mike Wolf, an analyst
at ABI Research.

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