Yahoo Gains AT&T, Loses T-Mobile Search Deal

Earlier this week, we discovered that Yahoo would be the default search engine on AT&T’s first Android handset, the Motorola Backflip. That’s a first as far as I know, an Android device that doesn’t present Google as the featured search engine.

However, in the bad-news column for Yahoo, according to PaidContent, T-Mobile has now swapped it for Google as the default search engine on the T-Mobile portal. However it’s no longer clear how valuable these portal deals are, as the market shifts to smartphones. Most of the mobile internet activity takes place on smartphones, though not entirely.

Consumers have more options to access the content and services they are loyal to on smartphones, rather than simply accepting and using the carrier-designated services. Though it’s an “empirical question” anecodotal evidence argues that carrier portals have little or no impact on smartphone users. They may exist in some form but can simply be ignored by consumers.

Google is already the dominant mobile search engine, so this switcheroo of the T-Mobile “default” relationship doesn’t necessarily help Google or harm Yahoo in a major way. There will be some incremental loss or gain (depending on which company we’re talking about) in search query volume and related clicks however.

The US-search engine carrier alliances are now as follows:

  • Verizon-Bing (although Android phones feature Google)
  • AT&T-Yahoo
  • Sprint-Google (and MSFT to a much lesser degree)
  • T-Mobile-Google (the company still has a search relationship with Yahoo in Europe)

When Verizon “turned on” the default Bing search deal late last year some Verizon subscribers revolted, which shows that these deals don’t necessarily yield the desired outcome.

Postscript: PaidContent also has details of a Yahoo reoganization that saw the elimination of the mobile group, in favor of a more integrated approach in which mobile is component of everything.

Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Google: Mobile | Microsoft: Bing | Yahoo: Mobile & Go | Yahoo: Partnerships


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • vkelman

    Everybody I know agree that AT&T just lost a lot of new customers on that deal. Who in the world would buy *Android* device with Yahoo! Search and AT&T Maps (Motorola Backflip)?
    Android users tend to be more on the techno geek side than iPhone users, they are aware of what Android is. One of the best features of Android phones is a beautiful integration with Google Search, free Google Maps with turn-by-turn navigation, etc.

    Myself is a first example – I was considering buying Motorola Backlflip for my daughter, but will not do it because of that stupid decision of AT&T.

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