Yahoo Local Goes Mobile

In the never-ending march of new search engine features, Yahoo Local this week added a “send to phone” option to itssearch results.

Now customers who have mobile phone service from Cingular/AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint or Nextel will be able to send text messages with the address and phone number of, for instance, a restaurant directly from their PCs to their mobile phones using SMS messaging service.

Yahoo Won’t Charge

Users of the service would have to pay any fees charged by their mobileservice providers to receive the messages, but Yahoo will not charge to sendthe message.

The new service is unlikely to create a big stir, one analyst said.”I think most people will still prefer to make notes with pen and paper,”John Barrett, director of research at Parks Associates, told TechNewsWorldwhen asked if he imagined widespread use of the feature.

Stuck Behind the Computer

Users still have to be sitting in front of a PC or laptop in order toconduct the search.

Mobile phone users can already search for business listings, dictionaryentries and product prices using their phones with Google SMS, launched in beta in October. Users send specific queries to Google and the results are sent via SMS to their phones.

At the same time, Yahoo launched Yahoo Search for Mobile for browser-enabled mobile devices, whichallows users to conduct Yahoo Web searches from their phones.

Yahoo’s new SMS service can make life a little easier, especially whencommunicating to a group.

“It offers a little added convenience. In most cases it just saves the 30seconds it would take to print off the [search] listing or write it down onpaper,” Barrett said. “It offers greater value in coordinating a group. Forexample, you could text-message the lunch location to everyone in theoffice, class, club, etc.”

Drawing in Users

Yahoo, Google and, increasingly, MSN, are embroiled in a battle for users.The services are designed to attract more unique views to their sites.

“Yahoo’s strategy is to make itself a hub of online activity with spokesreaching out to many different devices. This is another feature along thoselines,” Barrett said.

The more unique users, the more eyes are likely to see the sponsored linkscompanies sell on their search engines.

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