Yahoo, others launch new wireless services

Ryan Blitstein and Elise Ackerman
San Jose Mercury News (MCT)

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Build it and they will come.

That is the belief that companies as big as Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo and as small as the newly launched Palo Alto, Calif.-based Mozes hold about the mobile Web - the much-hyped "next big thing" that has yet to be discovered by American consumers.

According to Forrester Research, only about 1 in 10 people with mobile phones use them to search the Internet.

But that hasn't prevented entrepreneurs from building companies that specialize in everything from mobile video mash-ups to mobile advertising platforms.

Meanwhile, the biggest Internet companies tout incremental improvements in mobile services like search and advertising.

Tuesday, Yahoo launched a mobile advertising network that is designed more or less to mimic advertising on the PC-based Internet. The Internet company said the first mobile ads will go live on the network during the second quarter.

Yahoo first began showing ads on its mobile sites in the United States at the end of last year. However, the ads are not visible to most mobile users who do not use their phones to go to any Internet sites.

"One of the problems is you aren't reaching the mainstream mobile user," said Charles Golvin, an analyst with Forrester Research.

Yahoo also released related services Tuesday that aim to make it easier for Web-site publishers to push their material on to mobile phones.

On the same day, Mountain View, Calif., Internet company Google said it was tailoring search results for mobile phones. "No one likes having to click on link after link to get the information they need," product manager Yael Shacham wrote in a blog post.

That's also how Glen Leverich feels. The Palo Alto geologist used Yahoo's new mobile search, which was made widely available last week, on his Nokia N80 to check basketball scores over the weekend. Leverich, whose wife works at Yahoo, liked the fact that the service was smart enough to know that when he typed in "oregon ducks" he wanted to check how the University of Oregon was faring in the NCAA tournament.

"I instantly got the results; it didn't pull up any another information," Leverich said.

Yahoo and other mobile-focused companies are betting that type of experience will eventually will draw other users, and some investors are gambling they will be right.

According to Bank of America research, revenue from mobile content will double from $23 billion in 2006 to $47 billion in 2010.

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