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November 7, 2005

Google and Yahoo chase wireless market

Silicon Valley's online darlings Google Inc and Yahoo Inc for months have talked up how wireless is the future for their Internet services and yesterday new details of their strategies came to light.

By CBR Staff Writer

Google yesterday launched Google Local for mobile, which essentially gives cell phone users access to satellite maps already available on Google Maps. Users now can use their cell phones to search for businesses or services in a geographic location. The results are plotted in a map and as driving directions.

And Yahoo plans to release, perhaps by early next year, a cell phone in partnership with SBC Communications Inc. The device is expected to enable Yahoo to wirelessly link its Internet services, such as e-mail, photos and music, with users’ Yahoo address books and accounts, for example.

The device is an extension of the companies’ announcement last November that they were working together to merge wireless telecom and online services, said an SBC spokesperson.

The SBC-Yahoo phone will be made by Nokia Corp and would retail from $200 to $300. It would operate on the Cingular Wireless network, which is owned jointly by SBC and BellSouth Corp, and would include an MP3 player and camera.

Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo declined to comment on its wireless plans and upcoming products. But an SBC spokesperson confirmed details of the phone, which first appeared in a Wall Street Journal story yesterday.

A Cingular Wireless spokesperson said the partnership will expose people to Cingular Wireless services and capabilities, and that is a good thing from a variety of perspectives, not least of which is financial.

Anything that lets people experience all they can do with their wireless phone is definitely a positive, said the spokesperson of the SBC-Yahoo device.

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Google Local for mobile is available for free download. But unlike Yahoo’s proprietary route, it supports most Java-enabled phones.

And we’re working to make it available to as many users as possible, said Google on its beta site. The free service requires users to have a mobile data service from a cellular operator.

Google Local for mobile is merely the company’s latest effort to move its online services to wireless devices. Last year, the Mountain View, California-based company enabled US cell phone users to get search results by text messaging the company. In June, users could get search results from a list of Web sites that were optimized for cell phones.

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