Google, Yahoo to reach 3B mobile phone users

Android could be "the ultimate Internet-style-luminated mobile phone" says Google

With a market size three times bigger than the Internet today, Internet search engines Yahoo! and Google both aim to bring the Internet to about 3.2 billion mobile phone users as compared to the 850 million PC users today.

"The phone is three times the size of the market as the Web, so why not people turn on the phone first?" remarked Andy Rubin, Google's director of mobile platforms.

Rubin said that since Google's business comes mostly from advertisements, enabling Internet-like experience in mobile phones is very important to them. He said Google's new mobile phone platform, Android, could be "the ultimate Internet-style-luminated mobile phone" slated to be launched later this year or early 2009.

"Android is open-source platform for mobile phones. It allows developers to develop Internet-style applications on the phone," he explained, adding that Google has partnered with eight telecommunication companies worldwide who are now building phones based on the Android platform.

Rubin said Google has funded US$10 million to challenge developers to develop applications for Android and there are now about 1700 developers in 75 countries that joined the contest -- 20% submissions coming from Asia --which he described as a "pretty global effort and exciting to watch."

In an exclusive press briefing in Singapore, Rubin presented an unnamed mobile phone that uses the Android platform, where it has Internet-style application features such as BreadCrumbz, PedNav, Fon11, Enkin, multiple weather applications, and various pocket PC games,among others.

BreadCrumbz is a first-person view navigation for tours and route-finding, while PedNav helps a user plan his foot-based itinerary, incorporating time estimates based on traffic and other variables. Fon11, however, is for social networking with real-time location, presence and status. Yet Enkin is a new handheld navigation concept, displaying location based content that bridges the gap between classic map-like representations and the real world. It combines GPS, orientation sensors, 3D graphics, live video, and Web services to bring mapping to live.

Meanwhile, David Ko, managing director and vice president of Connected Life Yahoo! Asia Pacific, announced at the CommunicAsia event here in June that Yahoo!now treats mobile devices as the "starting point" in reaching more product consumers in the Internet compared with PC users.

"We're reinventing the mobile Internet. It is our goal to target billions of consumers in the Internet," Ko said, announcing Yahoo!'s new partnerships with Smart Communications Inc. and Sun Cellular, both in the Philippines; the Mahanager Telephon Nigam Limited (MTNL) in India, one2Free in Hong Kong, and Vibo Telecom Inc. in Taiwan.

Ko said the development has increased Yahoo!'s mobile search deals to over 60 in the past 18 months. He claimed that with Yahoo! oneSearch's launch in the Philippines, it now has the potential to reach 95% of the country's mobile phone users, more than online desktop users.

Launched in 2007, oneSearch is specifically designed for mobile devices. It delivers results in the first screen, removing the need for consumers to navigate through a sea of Web links to find the information they want, such as news, financial information, Flickr photos, images,videos, music, and also Web and mobile Web sites.

"Yahoo! is a leading monetization engine for mobile Internet, enabling advertisers to reach targeted audiences at large scale and with impact, providing consumers with enhanced mobile experiences, and allowing publishers to monetize their services," Ko explained, as he cited a study by eMarket which predicted that the mobile advertising market with a record spending of US$1.2 billion in 2006, would reach $16.2 billion in 2011.

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Tom S. Noda

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