Yahoo, Samsung Announce Mobile Services Agreement

Yahoo and Samsung are expanding their partnership so that mobile services such as Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Search will be preloaded on Samsung phones running the proprietary Bada and Google Android operating systems. Yahoo has been inking agreements in the mobile space of late, including a March deal to make Yahoo the default search provider for the Motorola Backflip, which runs Android. Yahoo is locked in fierce competition with Google and Microsoft for online market share, even as it prepares to have its back-end search apparatus taken over by Microsoft's Bing.

Yahoo will preload its mobile services on Samsung phones running the proprietary Bada and Google Android operating systems, according to an agreement announced April 26. Under the terms of the Yahoo-Samsung agreement, services preloaded on the devices will include e-mail, calendar and instant messaging.

"We're thrilled to deepen our relationship with Samsung and look forward to continuing to drive the global adoption of mobile Internet services," David Ko, Yahoo's senior vice president of audience, mobile and local, said in an April 26 statement. "By making our most popular Yahoo services available on Samsung mobile devices around the world, we're providing consumers with personally relevant mobile Internet experiences that make it easy for them to stay connected to what's important to them."

Those services-such as Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Contacts and Calendar, Yahoo Mobile Front Page and Yahoo Search-will be ported onto millions of Samsung phones starting in May. In a joint news release, the companies called the current agreement an "expansion" of a relationship that extends back to a 2007 partnership.

Yahoo has struck deals with several other mobile companies lately, including AT&T, whose Android-running Motorola Backflip will nonetheless use Yahoo as its default search provider. That deal was seen as the fruit of the relationship between Yahoo and AT&T, but Backflip users could still switch to another search engine with a few seconds' typing.

"We are happy that AT&T has chosen Yahoo Search as the default mobile search service on the Motorola Backflip, AT&T's first Android device," an AT&T spokesperson told eWEEK in March. "We have a longstanding relationship with AT&T and more than 80 carrier partnerships around the world for our award-winning mobile search experience."

Yahoo continues to face substantial challenges in the search space. According to ComScore, Google occupied 65.1 percent of the U.S. search market in March, with Yahoo at 16.89 percent and Microsoft's Bing at 11.7 percent. However, Yahoo experienced only incremental monthly growth of 0.08 percent after 13 consecutive declines, suggesting that the company's massive advertising push in late 2009 had achieved only negligible results.

Microsoft and Yahoo signed a 10-year deal in July 2009 that would see Microsoft power Yahoo's search engine, while Yahoo operates the two companies' worldwide search-advertising sales force. However, Yahoo executives have continued to insist that Yahoo has the potential to remain a robust force on the Web. During an August 2009 press conference, Yahoo rolled out several new features for its core properties, including Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Messenger, designed to keep users on its sites longer and thus attract increased advertiser revenue.

"Background search is much like an Intel chip," Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz told 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 those chips, is different."

Bartz has also insisted that Yahoo can be brought back to strength, but such a process will take time: "I know people want to see magic things happen ... The magic things happening are deep inside our little system here."