Yahoo and Nokia announce a partnership that will see Yahoo become the global provider for Nokia's Ovi e-mail and messenger services, while Nokia provides map and navigation technology for Yahoo's properties. The alliance is meant to bring vital technology into Yahoo's portfolio, while giving Nokia more of a toehold in the U.S. mobile market, where it lags behind competitors. Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz says such partnerships are now a key focus for Yahoo.
Yahoo and Nokia announced a partnership May 24 in which Nokia will become
the global provider of Yahoo's map and navigation services, while Yahoo becomes
the global provider of Nokia's Ovi e-mail and messenger services. The deal is
designed to play to the strengths of both companies, with Yahoo compensating
for a weakness in maps with Nokia's technology, while Nokia's Ovi brand benefits
from Yahoo's advances in mobile communication.
The co-branded offerings are expected to be available starting in the second
half of 2010, with global availability planned for the following year. Yahoo
properties' maps will be labeled "powered by Ovi," while Ovi Mail and
Ovi Chat will be "powered by Yahoo." In addition, the two companies
are apparently working on a way to allow streamlined access for Ovi user IDs to
certain Yahoo online services and content.
"It's increasing a part of Yahoo's DNA
to partner," Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz said
during a May 24 press conference. "We'll partner with others when we need
to add strength to our services."
Bartz described the deal as ultimately giving Yahoo users a "richer
experience" incorporating Nokia's maps and navigation technology. "We
haven't been focused a lot on our maps platform," she said.
"This alliance changes that. It's a great example of an approach to
Nokia executives expressed hope that the Yahoo alliance would help the
company establish more of a beachhead in the U.S.
mobile market, where it lags behind other competitors with regard to both
market and mind share.
Another major Yahoo partnership is its 10-year search and advertising deal
with Microsoft that will see Bing power Yahoo's back-end search processes in
exchange for Yahoo managing the two companies' worldwide search-advertising
sales force. According to corporate blog posts, the two companies aim to have
major aspects of the deal in place by the end-of-year holidays, including moving
advertisers and publishers to Microsoft's AdCenter platform.
For the first five years of that agreement, Microsoft will pay Yahoo traffic
acquisition costs at an initial rate of 88 percent of search revenue generated
on Yahoo's sites. "The Yahoo and Microsoft team have been working hard to
design a high-quality transition rate for customers," Carolyn Miller, a
member of Microsoft's AdCenter Community Team, wrote in a May 6 post on
the AdCenter blog. "We're working toward completing this transition in
the U.S. and Canada
before the start of the 2010 holiday season, with additional countries
following on a staggered schedule beginning in 2011."
In the aftermath of that agreement, Yahoo seemed more determined than ever
to insist on its autonomy and viability as an independent entity. During an
August 2009 press conference, Yahoo executives rolled out several new features
designed to augment the company's core properties, such as Yahoo Mail and Yahoo
"Background search is much like an Intel chip," Bartz told an
audience of assembled media during a September event at NASDAQ MarketSite in Times
Square. "Thank God they've done their R&D and gotten it
out into the world; but the experience that Dell wraps around their chips and
HP wraps around their chips is different."
Yahoo also announced an agreement April 26 that will see services such as Yahoo
Mail, Contacts and Calendar preloaded on Samsung smartphones. Other mobile
deals include one with AT&T that will make Yahoo the default search
provider for the Android-running Motorola Backflip smartphone.
Yahoo continues to occupy a middle position in the U.S.
search market, consistently placing ahead of Bing but lagging far behind
Google. Nonetheless, Yahoo's executives have publicly expressed optimism about
the company's prospects-and used the opportunity to inevitably try and seed
doubts about their competitors. In an April 29 interview with BBC News, Bartz
suggested that Google would face serious issues in the future: "Google
is going to have a problem because Google is only known for search ... Google has
to grow a company the size of Yahoo every year to be interesting."
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.