Mobile ops seek out search market – update

Reports that a handful of tier one mobile operators are planning to create a mobile search engine to challenge the likes of Google and Yahoo look increasingly vaporous.

Rumours started in the Sunday papers suggest that Vodafone, France Telecom, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Hutchison Whampoa, Telecom Italia and Cingular will meet at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona next week to bash out the details of the mobile search project.

But one of the carriers named in the speculative pieces told that the reports are “utter rubbish” and no such discussions were taking place.

Another named operator said that some sort of proposal was in play but added that it was only going through the motions and would not be participating in any joint search effort.

Google and Yahoo already have deals with a number of mobile operators and, to some degree, have the market sewn up. One operator said that its “existing deals fulfil its requirements.”

However, the rumours maintain that the mobile industry reckons it could take a larger share of advertising revenues by running its own mobile search service.

Last month, the Mobile Data Association announced that a new record for the number of mobile internet sessions was achieved in the UK during December.

Subscribers accessed the net from their mobile devices a total of 15.9 million times, up 1 million from the previous record reached in November, 2006.

Informa Telecoms & Media principal analyst, Nick Lane, suggested that a significant proportion of the gain was down to the traditional Christmas rush for new phones and the lucky recipients trying them out.

But he added that “The continued advancement of handsets means people are beginning to spend more time familiarising themselves with new services.”

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