I received an email this morning and my stomach turned.
What did the email say?
Virgin Media and Yahoo! today announced that Yahoo! oneSearch(TM) will power the Internet search experience on Virgin Media’s new, enhanced mobile portal. The Virgin Media mobile portal will be available to consumers on the 8th of December, and brings the world of news, music, video, games and entertainment, as well as Yahoo!’s award-winning mobile search experience, straight to consumers’ pockets.
Yahoo! oneSearch is specifically designed for the needs of a mobile user, intuitively returning results directly in the first screen, removing the need for consumers to navigate through thousands of links to find the information they want.
Why did my stomach turn?
Well because I thought the on-portal search deal belonged to InfoSpace/Motricity. The press release says exclusive – but it is not sure if this is just for off-portal. I am going to have to ask. But I do hope its for off-portal only. The trouble with Yahoo! Press releases is that they often ignore the white label search provider and boast exclusivity (see articles on Alltel/Jumptap).
Why does the search provider matter?
You know what – people keep telling me that they only care about Google and Yahoo for mobile search – but, white label is good and has a lot to offer. Tailored mobile content searches can be done with white label and I remember the first ever RFP for Virgin mobile search in 2005/2006 and remember how InfoSpace (at the time) beat four other players for the deal – so fingers crossed this is an addition and not a replacement.
But what about Yahoo?!
Well, Yahoo! Is winning deals left right and centre. Even though I like oneSearch – I am convinced that it is getting in the door by aggressive or free pricing and a huge ad revenue share promise.
But is it enough for Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Is fighting hard in mobile – but it isn’t enough. Search deals come and go and I don’t think the market is stable. Contracts tend to last one year or max three years and change is evident.
Mobile’s potential is not realised and with search – mobile is so new and still so nascent being a leader in mobile search deals or mobile display advertising brings little return in $$$.
Sounds harsh –but that is the way it is.
Saying that – I haven’t heard anything form InfoSpace Motricity players for a while – I bumped into them at CTIA but frankly there are so few left – I am not sure what the direction is of the company anymore.
But saying that I think that 2009 will be the year of the return of white label mobile serach players.