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8/31/2007
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Stephen Wellman
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Is Yahoo Working On A Cell Phone?

Earlier this week Michael Arrington at TechCrunch dropped a bombshell that has yet to be explained: Yahoo is supposedly working on a cell phone.

Earlier this week Michael Arrington at TechCrunch dropped a bombshell that has yet to be explained: Yahoo is supposedly working on a cell phone.Here is the quote in question:

And just to throw another tidbit out there -- the HTC exec that was mentioned on CrunchGear yesterday said Yahoo is on a parallel track as Google, and has actually been working on custom phones for longer than Google. We may be seeing a Yahoo phone next year, too.

I suppose one could argue that if it makes sense for Google to launch a cell phone, it makes just as much sense for Yahoo to launch one, too.

Now, I have to admit that Arrington's reference here is one of the first I have seen about a Yahoo Phone. After I went poking around, I came across this little tidbit:

So far, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo hasn't talked to other universities about similar arrangements, he said.

Yahoo will open the center with 120 employees and has said it plans to add more. Most of the first employees will come from a pool of workers left behind by Motorola Inc. when the cell-phone maker closed a software design center on campus earlier this month.

Yahoo plans to put most of its new hires to work developing better ways to use data the company gathers on its users to refine its search technology and its ability to target users for advertisers, Ojjeh said.

Yahoo is opening a research center with a bunch of software engineers who used to work at Motorola? Why is no one else talking about this? Yahoo claims these engineers are working on ad targeting, etc., and they may well be. I can't say for certain what they're going to work on, but the fact that they used to work for Motorola is interesting.

OK, I can hear you skeptics out there groaning. Hear me out. It's not like Yahoo hasn't been pushing mobile applications just as heavily as Google. This year they've expanded their oneSearch service to work with more than 85% of the mobile phones in the U.S. And according to my fellow blogger, Eric Zeman, oneSearch can give Google's mobile search a run for its money. Yahoo also extended its Go platform to mobile devices, expanding its widgets and other applications to cell phones.

Also of note, a survey released by The Equs Group in May showed that 55.5% of U.S. consumers would buy a cell phone branded by Google or Yahoo. Not only does this give credence to the Google Phone reports, it also supports the idea that Yahoo, too, could be making a mobile device.

There is nothing concrete to support the Yahoo Phone rumor. And right now it seems like an even bigger act of speculation than the growing rumors surrounding the Google Phone.

What do you think? Is Yahoo also working on a cell phone? And if so would you use it?

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