Reuters interviews the head of Yahoo’s mobile efforts, Marco Boerries, who emphasizes that Yahoo is building strategic partnerships with carriers and OEMs around the world and argues that Google is probably misguided in introducing Android. Boerries is quoted in the article as saying, “The race is going to be who builds the biggest arsenal of partners and numbers of page views.” (This suggests an emphasis on display ads rather than paid search in mobile.) He also argues that Google risks being distracted by technology instead of focusing on ad revenue, the “lifeblood” of both companies.
Yahoo has two strategies in mobile: WAP-based oneSearch and Go, its mobile client. The idea is to get Go preloaded on as many phones as possible, given the challenge of getting users to download mobile applications. However, as I argue in a post at LocalMobileSearch:
The key questions for Yahoo ultimately will not be how many direct OEM and carrier relationships the company has for Go, but how good is Go itself (and oneSearch) and whether they are substantially better than offerings from Yahoo!’s rivals. One could argue that the best mobile client today is not Go but AOL’s MyMobile. In fairness, I’ve only seen MyMobile demo’d and haven’t yet “lived with it” in the way I have with Go. But MyMobile has personalization features that Go has yet to introduce, but presumably will.
Yahoo’s strategy to gain broad distribution is a smart one, but it won’t prevent end-users from going directly to Google if Google is perceived to be better on mobile devices. Yahoo must simply offer the best, most user-friendly mobile experience it can — partly to combat Google’s brand strength in search. Otherwise, no mountain of business development deals with handset makers and carriers will win the hearts and minds of users.