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Opera Goes Yahoo For Mobile Search

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2007-01-08

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A year ago, Opera announced Google would be the default search provider on its mobile browser. That has changed to Yahoo, a fundamental shift that seems surprising on the surface.

With the debut of Yahoo oneSearch today, it will have a prominent place on millions of mobile handsets courtesy of its new partner, Opera Software. Yahoo's oneSearch is part of its Yahoo Go initiative, which places Yahoo services on modern mobile phones.

Opera distributes two browsers for mobile devices, the Mini and the Mobile. The new partnership looks like a good technology fit: Yahoo integrates a lot of Ajax technology into its myriad services, while Opera's Platform enables Ajax on mobile devices. One of their sample screen shots shows a Flickr tag search.

Another screen shot on that same Platform page shows a link to Google, which until now has been Opera's exclusive search partner on the mobile browser. Previously, a deal with Google enabled Opera to release its desktop browser as a free product, minus the ad displays that had been part of the previous free Opera version.

There can't be two default searches in a mobile browser, which means Yahoo's 'in' and Google's 'out'. If this reflects Yahoo's competitive strategy, they aren't going to try fighting Google on a desktop battlefield that Google has pretty much won when it comes to search.

An Opera spokesperson expanded upon the change in an email with WebProNews:

We signed a one year mobile search agreement with Google in December 2005. In the renewing process we invited also other search partners in to evaluate which partner that would be the best fit for our mobile strategy going forward.

With more than 9 million Opera Mini users to whom we had served more than 2.5 billion web pages, we were in a good position to attract interest among the alternative search partners.

We decided that the offer from Yahoo was the best proposal - both on a commercial and strategic level.

Opera's relationship with Google on the desktop remains unchanged, and the software company is very happy with its Google partnership.

Opera and Yahoo will work together on bringing ads into Opera Mobile, the for-pay version of Opera's handset browsers. Opera Mini is freely available and works on most Internet-enabled mobile devices.

The oneSearch technology described by Yahoo sounds very similar to the 'information at your fingertips' strategy employed by search competitor Ask. Called Smart Answers, Ask attempts to serve up key information at the top of a search results page in response to a query.

Yahoo speaks in similar terms of its oneSearch. Marco Boerries, senior vice president of connected life, Yahoo!, said of oneSearch, "It delivers a mobile-optimized search experience that understands what consumers are looking for and presents answers directly in the results -- not just a list of Web links to PC sites."

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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