SAN FRANCISCO (03/20/2000) - Yahoo Inc. today announced wireless versions of its auction, movie listing and Web directory services as part of an effort to strengthen the company's position in the nascent market for delivering Internet content to mobile phones and other portable devices.
The new services can be accessed on any mobile phone or device that supports WAP (wireless application protocol) and add to Yahoo's existing wireless offerings, which include e-mail, stock quotes, news and calendaring, Yahoo officials said today.
In the U.S. alone, there are currently an estimated 5 million WAP-enabled phones in use, and analysts expect that number to grow rapidly as more wireless Internet services become available, Mohan Vishwanath, vice president of Yahoo Everywhere, Yahoo's wireless division, said in an interview today.
"Our goal is to make Yahoo's services available to users wherever they are, no matter what type of device they use to access the Internet," Vishwanath said.
Absent from the new services announced today is an application that would allow mobile users to shop online. Yahoo is likely to offer a wireless version of Yahoo Shopping by the end of this year, Vishwanath said.
The new services should help the portal company as it competes against rivals like America Online Inc. (AOL) and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN (Microsoft Network), which are also battling to take an early lead in the wireless data market.
The auction service announced today, called Yahoo Auctions to Go, lets users make bids and watch the progress of auctions that are underway on the Net. An alert feature will notify a user when they have been outbid, Vishwanath said.
Yahoo Movies on the Move helps users locate a theater quickly in their local area, read the synopsis of a movie and check show times. The information provided is based on the address provided when a user registers for Yahoo's services, although a different location can be searched if the user is away from home.
Wireless Yahoo Directory Services is modeled after the directory on the company's main online portal, and includes a list of Web sites whose content has been reformatted for mobile phones using WML (wireless markup language) or HDML (handheld device markup language)A fourth new wireless service announced today allows new users to register for Yahoo's personalized content and services from their phone rather than from their PC.
"These devices (such as mobile phones) might be the first point of Internet access for some users, particularly in other parts of the world, so we wanted to allow people to register for Yahoo through their phone," Vishwanath said.
Yahoo served about 120 million unique users in December of last year, and about 100 million people are registered users, Vishwanath said. He declined to say how many users have signed up for Yahoo's mobile services since they were launched in June 1999.
Yahoo has partnered with a number of service providers to distribute its wireless services to users. The partners include Sprint PCS in the U.S., Bell Mobility in Canada, D2 Mannesmann Mobilfunk in Germany, SmarTone and New World in Hong Kong, Radiolinja in Finland, and SK Telecom and Hansol PCS in Korea.
The company has also teamed up with device makers including Motorola Inc. and Palm Inc.
Yahoo, based in Santa Clara, California, can be reached at +1-408-731-3300 or via the Internet at http://www.yahoo.com/.