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Yahoo wants to become mobile gateway for Internet

Signifying yet another vote for mobile, Yahoo announced the upcoming launch of its new Yahoo Mobile service, positioned as a personalized mobile starting point to the Internet.

Yahoo Mobile will be available on the mobile Web as an application developed for the Apple iPhone and other smartphones from Nokia, Research In Motion, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Motorola, as well as those powered by the Windows Mobile operating system. Yahoo Mobile will be available initially through a managed beta program, with general availability expected in the second quarter of 2009.

"We're combining our services in the right way and dramatically improving consumers' ability to use the mobile Internet to discover, stay connected and stay informed,"said Cory Pforzheimer, spokesman for Yahoo, Sunnyvale, CA. "From the consumer's perspective, we're simplifying things."

Yahoo made the announcement yesterday at the GSMA's Mobile World Congress, the world's largest gathering of mobile executives in Barcelona, Spain, this week.

"What consumers need is a point to start their Internet experience and always come back to, and that's what we deliver,"Mr. Pforzheimer said. "We have enhanced design and interactivity that better leverages all of the capabilities of today's mobile devices.

"Our strategy is to transform the phone by combining a great user interface with the consumer's starting point for the Internet, offering an open environment in which consumers quickly and easily bring together their favorite content and services from practically anywhere across the Internet,"he said.

The news comes 24 hours after arch-rival Microsoft brought the full might of its weight to Mobile World Congress with a raft of announcements: an upgraded Windows Mobile operating system, a Web backup and photo-sharing service, a marketplace for mobile apps and new voice search technology (see story).

Yahoo Mobile is the most visited mobile Web site in the U.S., according to comScore.

"The iPhone set the bar for user experience,"Mr. Pforzheimer said. "There are a huge and growing number of consumers who want a true Internet experience from their devices. This is what we will provide.

"We're providing a browser version for a wide range of phones, an iPhone app that provides a faster, richer user experience with more functionality and the Yahoo Mobile app for smartphones that will work across hundreds of devices shipped in the last few years,"he said.

Consumers will be able to discover content via results from Yahoo's mobile search, editor-selected content and new mapping tools.

"As you've seen and will continue to see moving forward, devices get more powerful and consumers expect more,"Mr. Pforzheimer said. "We're in the position to deliver a compelling user experience and fill consumer demand for Internet experiences on their phone.

Yahoo Mobile will give consumers access to their email and social networking accounts from content providers, as well as instant messaging, address book and calendar tools.

The platform also lets consumers bring together their favorite content into a single location on their handset, including Web sites, sports teams, news sources, RSS feeds, weather, stocks and horoscopes.

The mobile Web and iPhone versions of Yahoo Mobile will include Yahoo oneSearch, the company's mobile search service, and news and entertainment stories selected by Yahoo's editorial team.

In addition, they will feature Yahoo oneConnect, which provides consumers with access to Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Windows Live Hotmail and AOL Mail.

Pulse gives consumers access to their social networks, including Bebo, Dopplr, Facebook, Flickr, Friendster,, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube.

The mobile Web and iPhone versions will also have an upgraded version of Yahoo Messenger, a mobile instant messaging service; Yahoo Address Book for consumers' contacts; a Yahoo News portal; and Yahoo Calendar, letting consumers view, add and edit appointments when they are away from their PCs.

In addition, the two versions will have Yahoo onePlace, where consumers can access and manage their favorite content. Its "Add Anything"functionality is a search and browse process that helps consumers find and add whatever content they want.

Consumers can add their favorite interests from a growing selection of categories, including news topics and sources, RSS feeds, weather conditions, sports scores, stock quotes, Web sites/blogs, horoscopes and movie theaters.

The smartphone version of Yahoo Mobile will include the above functionality, plus Yahoo oneSearch with Voice, letting consumers launch searches by simply speaking, and improved mapping tools that let consumers locate, learn about and get directions to points of interest.

The smartphone version will also have Opera Mini 4.2, an integrated version of the mobile Web browser, with easy return to the Yahoo Mobile application, which launches when Web site access is needed.

In addition, widgets will offer mobile-optimized experiences for services from Yahoo and other brands. Consumers can browse, add and remove these at anytime according to their tastes, according to Yahoo.

Consumers interested in participating in the managed beta program for Yahoo Mobile can enter into their phone's browser.

As for the upcoming general public release of Yahoo Mobile, the mobile Web version is expected to launch in late March.

That version will be accessible on devices running WebKit-based browsers, including the iPhone and iPod touch, many Nokia Series 60 and Android devices, Opera Mini 4.x, Windows Mobile devices with Internet Explorer Mobile and the BlackBerry Bold and BlackBerry Storm browsers.

The iPhone app is also expected to launch in late March, while the smartphone app is expected by late May. It will be compatible on hundreds of select mobile phone models from RIM, Windows Mobile, Nokia S60 and 40, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Motorola.

At launch, each version of Yahoo Mobile is planned to be available in the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, India, Indonesia and the Philippines. Versions for other countries will roll out during the year.

Yahoo Mobile will feature the company's display advertising from major global advertisers, none of whom have been announced yet.

"There is incredible interest from advertisers for our mobile services,"Mr. Pforzheimer claimed. "With millions of unique users visiting our mobile Web site and some of the highest-quality inventory available, we think Yahoo is well-positioned to help brands to reach their target customers wherever they are on the PC and the mobile Internet.

"By leveraging our sales force, Yahoo is focused on creating scale for advertisers, enabling them to tap into the rapidly -- growing, lucrative audience of mobile consumers,"he said.

Yahoo's booth at Mobile World Congress is located at 7B26, Hall 7.

Arch-competitor Microsoft brought the full might of its weight to Mobile World Congress with a raft of announcements: an upgraded Windows Mobile operating system, a Web backup and photo-sharing service, a marketplace for mobile apps and new voice search technology (see story).

Yahoo Inc. is a global Internet brand and one of the most trafficked Internet destinations worldwide.

Yahoo is getting the word out about its new mobile offerings in a variety of ways.

"In addition to our own marketing efforts, we're in conversation with a variety of OEM and carrier partners to pre-load the service and/or to make Yahoo Mobile more discoverable,"Mr. Pforzheimer said.