Yahoo Expands Mobile Search with Text Messaging

Building on its search options offered through mobile browsers, Yahoo adds the ability to retrieve selected results through SMS.

Yahoo on Thursday is launching more ways for users to retrieve search results from their mobile phones.

The Sunnyvale, Calif., company is introducing an SMS (Short Message Service) option in which users can send a text message to grab specific search results in areas such as weather, stock quotes and local business information.

It also is extending its broader Web search feature for mobile-phone browsers by supporting WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) 2.0-enabled devices, company officials said.

For the expanded mobile-search options, Yahoo is using search shortcuts in order to provide results to targeted queries. The shortcuts, which bring back specific information such as a weather report or a stock quote rather than a list of links, already are offered through Yahoo Search accessed through the desktop Web browsers.

"Were able to leverage content from across the Yahoo network and use it to cerate shortcuts online, and now weve extended them to SMS search and [Yahoo] Search on Mobile," said Mihir Shah, Yahoos director of search product management.

To use the SMS feature, users must type the code "92466," which spells out "Yahoo," before a query term in a text message. Results are available for eight search shortcuts and not for general keyword searches, Shah said.

By linking search to text messaging, Yahoo is going head-to-head with rival Google Inc. Google already has focused much of its mobile-search effort on SMS.

Also on Thursday, Google is releasing a Firefox Web browser add-on that uses SMS to send Web information to mobile phones.

Yahoo, though, is trying to differentiate its SMS search offering by including interactive features, said Thad White, Yahoos senior director of mobile products.

When users receive an SMS search result, they receive a link in order to view fuller results in a mobile browser. They also can refresh an SMS-based search by replying to a previous SMS to Yahoo Search.

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Yahoos SMS search option is available on SMS-enabled devices using mobile networks from Cingular Wireless, Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless in the United States, White said. The service is free to users, though they may be charged by their carriers for sending and receiving text messages.

Yahoo previously had focused much of it mobile search attention on the browsers built into mobile devices. The company in October launched Yahoo Search on Mobile, which provided local results, image results and Web results on mobile browsers.

Yahoo initially offered the ability to conduct full, keyword-based Web searches only through mobile HTML browsers. Now it is expanding that capability to WAP 2.0 browsers as well, White said.

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