Later this month, the 3GSM conference in Barcelona will see the biggest players in the European telecoms market discuss the creation of their own mobile search engine to rival services from Google and Yahoo!. The companies involved in the project include Vodafone, France Telecom, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Hutchison Whampoa, Telecom Italia and the American network, Cingular.
It is believed that the telecoms companies see the creation of their own search engine as an aid to retaining a greater share of advertising revenue. This is due to the fact that the combined clout of the businesses would secure a bigger portion of available advertising revenue in return for exposing the search engine's operator and its advertisers to a much wider subscription base.
One of the options to be discussed is to ask an existing search engine - possibly Google or Yahoo! - to power search services across all the networks, although such collaboration will mean shared revenues from add-on services. Another point for discussion is likely to concern the creation of a new white-label service which would utilise a single advertising and technical team, which mobile networks could then apply to their own brand, bigmouthmedia.com reports.
Google last year entered negotiations with Orange, though talk of a "Google Phone" was probably overheated and the Mountain View giant has inked deals to provide its search facility on Vodafone and 3 handsets in the UK but is still testing mobile search advertising.
Yahoo!, too, is striking deals with networks to carry its new Go 2.0 mobile service on handsets and is also in a testing phase on mobile search ads, e-consultancy.com says.
The media reports said the networks may decide to go with an existing search engine and use their combined might to secure a majority slice of the income. Another idea the might talk about at the secret meeting is the creation of a white label service, with a single advertising sales house and technical team, to which mobile networks could then apply their own brand.
Mobile search is seen as potentially more valuable to users and advertisers than the service currently provided to desktop computers because results can be made geographically relevant, xinhuanet.com reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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