Yahoo Opens Mobile Search to Third-Party Content Developers

LAS VEGAS -- Yahoo opened mobile search on Wednesday to third-party content developers with application programming interfaces (APIs) that lets companies from Facebook to Zagat link directly to the search engine.

The announcements made by Yahoo mobile chief Marco Boerries at CTIA Wireless 2008 are the latest step in its battle with Google and Microsoft for consumers searching the Web.

The Sunnyvale, Calif. company highlighted its mobile Internet strategy, providing a look into the latest version of its oneSearch 2.0 service. While the tool launched in 2007, the updates aim to change the way consumers use the Internet on their mobile phones. About 29 carriers worldwide are oneSearch partners.

By enabling publishers to integrate relevant content into the Yahoo oneSearch results, it is more likely that consumers will find exactly what they seek. Open search results are expected to debut with initial partners in Q2 2008.

Here how it might work: If a person searches now for "Italian restaurants," results include addresses and phone numbers, but open results could also include information from restaurant booking companies displaying the number of available reservations.

Voice recognition--central to oneSearch--enables consumers to search for anything, from flight information and locations, to Web site names and local restaurants, by simply speaking the request. Some phones--such as Research in Motion BlackBerry devices--have voice recognition, and Yahoo plans to make it available to more handsets soon.

Yahoo's technology differs from conventional speech recognition services because it doesn't limit topics to certain items, relying on a basic vocabulary to find the information. The tool promises instant answers to any query, not just Web links.

It's all about discovery and creating a better search experience. "As strong as Yahoo is on search, we had to go back to the drawing board," said Gary Roshak, Yahoo VP/mobile advertising and publishing. Yahoo wants to focus on "discovery and how you find services and products on the Web through your phone."

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