By Jonathan Thaw, Bloomberg
San Francisco: Yahoo! Inc., owner of the most-visited US website, introduced a new version of its search engine for mobile phones in seven Asian countries including India and Singapore.
Yahoo OneSearch is tailored to each country, giving users local information such as weather forecasts and news, said Lee Ott, director of product management. The company also is introducing the service in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
OneSearch is part of an effort by Sunnyvale, California- based Yahoo to make more of its products available on mobile phones, letting the company lure advertisers that want to reach wireless users. Yahoo also wants to attract customers in countries such as India who are more likely to use phones as their main way of surfing the web.
“That’s really where the battle ground is going to be for mobile-only users,” Ott said in an interview.
Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. also are creating versions of their products, such as e-mail, online maps and search engines, that work with mobile phones. Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt said last week that mobile services are the company’s biggest opportunity to expand its business.
Mobile devices outsold personal computers by more than 4-to-1 in 2006, according to market research firm Gartner Inc.
Yahoo introduced a new version of OneSearch earlier this month for Canada and five European countries. The service was first released in the US in March.
In Europe, the service is available in languages such as Spanish and French, Ott said. The products released today for Asian countries will only work in English, he said.
Yahoo has had “great success” with OneSearch in the US, Ott said. He declined to say how many people use the service.
The service works on any mobile phone with a browser and web access. It’s free, although mobile service providers may charge a fee for Internet access.
Shares of Yahoo fell 74 cents, or by 2.5%, to $29.31 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. They have climbed by 15% this year.