I asked Yahoo! a few questions in the article and yesterday I received a response to specific questions that I highlighted.
Will Yahoo! provide search for on and off portal for Virgin Media?
Yahoo! Answer: Yahoo! oneSeach will be the on and off portal search provider on Virgin Media’s new mobile portal – displaying Virgin Mobile consumables within the results. The deal we announced is to power the search function on Virgin Media UK.
The partnership with Virgin Media in the UK further strengthens our leadership position in the United Kingdom . More than 80% of mobile phone subscribers can now experience Yahoo! oneSearch on the portals of Virgin, O2, T-Mobile and 3. In addition, Yahoo! is also the mobile display partner of choice in the UK for Vodafone, T-Mobile and 3. We also have additional advertising agreements globally, including AT&T, Maxis and Idea.
Is winning the mobile search wars enough for a sustainable business?
Yahoo! Answer: We consistently hear from our partners that one of the main reasons why they chose Yahoo! is because of the product benefits and our approach to the mobile search experience. You may recall T-Mobile’s CEO said last February, after we displaced Google in 10 countries across Europe , that T-Mobile had tried all the search apps out there and that Yahoo! oneSearch was the killer service.
Is Yahoo treading on the toes of white label mobile search providers?
Yahoo! Answer: From a global perspective, you’re seeing carriers open up and move away from trying to control the consumer’s mobile Internet experience (a walled garden approach). In order to facilitate greater adoption of the mobile Web, part of the shift includes offering consumers the Internet services that they know from the PC (i.e. Facebook, Yahoo! Mail, etc), thereby making a stronger value proposition and an easier tie-in from PC internet to mobile for consumers. You’re seeing the same thing with mobile search – as the carriers’ approach to mobile Internet has changed and become more compelling, white label search providers no longer provide the same value proposition to the carriers that they once did. When it comes to search, the consumer experience, the ability to provide highly relevant results and answers to a user’s intent, the ability to monetize the services, and a brand name consumers trust all become valuable assets.
Is Search enough in the mobile space?
Yahoo! Answer: Yahoo! continues to improve the oneSearch experience by introducing innovative enhancements such as voice search – now available on over 60 devices through either Yahoo! Go or our downloadable voice client…and by opening up oneSearch to publishers to integrate content to provide greater relevance through richer, more detailed search results through SearchMonkey. In addition we have added Search Assist, and made search instantly accessible on the idle screen of many Nokia phones.
What we think?
I really thank Yahoo! for reaching out. The answers are detailed and this shows that Yahoo! is eyeing up the number one mobile search spot in mobile. One could argue that it already owns it and it wants to tighten its hold.
I think the issue of “white label mobile search providers” is very interesting – as I hadn’t actually thought of leveraging a brand in the mobile space.
What I mean is. I have been in mobile for a long time and in mobile search. Mobile operators have always given the impression that they themselves are brands. In the early stages of the mobile web – the portals were THE brand presence of the mobile operator. I thought of white label mobile search as a solution to extend the operator brand. But in Yahoo’s response it poses a compelling question – is leveraging a brand and being seen with it – stronger for the mobile operator?
So, operators have a portal but the operator portal seems stronger or better if brands are sat on it or next to and actively promoting it. This is such as simple argument – I am distressed that I hadn’t thought about it. But from a consumer perspective – is that the case? (Yikes – I feel some primary search coming on!).
More on this and a follow up in the New Year.