Last year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Yahoo Chairman Terry Semel introduced Yahoo Go, an initiative seeking to push and integrate Yahoo content beyond the desktop on mobile devices and TV. According to the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) the company is going to introduce an upgraded version of Go for mobile today at this year’s CES (Postscript: Yahoo Go 2.0 is now up):
Today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Yahoo plans to significantly step up its attack on the mobile market, based on a piece of software that the company hopes will be widely used on cellphones by many of the roughly 500 million people who access its services from personal computers. The Sunnyvale, Calif., company is hoping that, while second to Google in Web search, it can lead the market for mobile search and associated advertising with a new offering tailored for use on handsets.
Where search engines typically give computer users a list of Web sites, Yahoo is trying to provide more specific answers to cellphone queries so consumers don’t have to click around as much to find what they’re looking for. A search on the word “49ers,” for instance, immediately brings up the San Francisco football team’s scores and schedule, photos, and headlines from two news articles rather than forcing users to jump to other Web sites for such information.
There’s nothing more on the Yahoo site yet about the announcement and the WSJ merely has a screenshot of one of the results pages. So it’s difficult to say much more about the service at this point. It will apparently be ad supported (revenue to be shared with participating carriers who help promote it) and rely on Yahoo user registrations to help personalize and provide location information rather than relying on GPS.
The fact that Yahoo Go requires a download makes it somewhat less accessible than if the service didn’t. According to the WSJ article there haven’t been a great many downloads of Go for mobile to date.
Recently, Yahoo Local and Dash announced a deal to put Yahoo Local content in the car. The new version of Go also promises improved local search on the go, a critical area for mobile.
Mobile local search is an area that Yahoo must and should be a strong player in. And given that Yahoo Mail was the most visited mobile content site last year, according to research firm Telephia, the company has a real opportunity in mobile to gain ground it lost on the desktop.
Postscript: Here’s a demo of the new capabilities.