AT&T, Yahoo Mobile Search Pact Excludes iPhone

Yahoo's oneSearch will be the default search engine on AT&T's MEdia Net cell phone portal, which is used on many of the company's Internet-enabled phones.
AT&T has made Yahoo the default search engine on most of its cell phones, the companies announced Monday.

Yahoo's oneSearch will be the primary search engine on AT&T's MEdia Net cell phone portal, which is used on many of the company's Internet-enabled phones, but not Apple's iPhone. Yahoo will also provide the mobile-sponsored search advertising.

"Our customers want mobile search to be convenient and intuitive, and Yahoo oneSearch is an important step for us in delivering that level of experience to them," said Michael Bowling, AT&T's VP of converged services, said in a statement.

The search engine is designed to return the most relevant results to mobile phone users, and it will comb through news, financial information, weather, Flickr photos, and more. The search will also show relevant content like ringtones and games from AT&T's MEdia Mall within results.

As customers increasingly surf the Web from a mobile handset, the search portal is becoming an important component. As more handsets feature built-in GPS capabilities, experts expect the mobile search market to become very lucrative due to location-based advertising.

The mobile search market is dominated by Google, which holds about 61% of the space according to Nielsen Mobile.

Yahoo is in a distant second with 18% of the market, but more strategic partnerships with wireless providers could help it cut that gap. The company said it has deals with 60 carriers throughout the world that provides oneSearch services on almost 800 million mobile phones.

Google already is the exclusive search provider for Sprint handsets, and reports said the search giant and Verizon Wireless are close to sealing a deal for mobile search and advertising.

To give the AT&T-Yahoo deal some perspective, InformationWeek has published a report that highlights how companies are using smartphones, PDAs, and pocket PCs to access business applications. The report can be downloaded here (registration required).

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