Yahoo and Taiwan’s High Tech Computer (HTC) have inked a deal to preload Yahoo Web services on millions of HTC’s smartphones that run Windows Mobile, giving Yahoo an edge in the race to capture mobile Web users.
HTC develops smartphones and customizes them for mobile operators and distributors around the world. In the deal with Yahoo, HTC will preload Yahoo services on 100 current models available today, with plans to offer it on 175 total models later this year.
The key services HTC will preload include Yahoo Go for Mobile 2.0, Yahoo Mail, and Yahoo OneSearch, all of which are optimized for small screens on mobile phones.
Yahoo Go, for instance, gives users access to personalized widgets that deliver e-mail, news, photos and search results. In addition, users can set up their preferences with their PCs, which also lets them back up their data preferences in the event they lose their phone.
Because Yahoo services will come preloaded on smartphones, getting customers to try them out should be easier; however, customers still have other options — for example, HTC will continue to preload Pocket MSN and IE on their phones.
While this deal gives Yahoo a leg up over Google, “the interesting battle will be how Microsoft and Yahoo’s mobile services compete on these devices,” Vidya Lakshmipathy, an analyst for Forrester, told TechNewsWorld.
“By most accounts, Windows Mobile still trails Symbian as a leader in mobile phone OSs, but it is steadily gaining market share. … Yahoo Go’s impact will obviously grow as Windows Mobile gains market share,” Lakshmipathy added.
The biggest challenges vendors face when it comes to delivering mobile content for consumers is poor user experience and confusing and costly data plans, Lakshmipathy said, noting that most American consumers still primarily use their phone for voice and text messaging.
“This is in large part because the mobile Web and other mobile content has typically been hard to find and hard to use,” she explained. Carriers often have proprietary portals designed for mobile Web use, but the sites are hit and miss — URLs are inconsistent, users have to scroll through large amounts of text, poorly formatted images, and site navigation is difficult to find and use.
“Yahoo Go does have the potential to really change the way mobile content is consumed, but until it’s widely accessible on a broad range of devices and carriers adopt a pricing model that users respond to, we’ll only see a small impact in overall mobile content consumption,” Lakshmipathy noted.