Mobile firms target Google domination

European mobile service providers to meet to discuss move into lucrative internet search programme market.

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By  Edward Poultney Published  February 4, 2007

Europe's telecom giants are to band together to create a mobile telephone search engine to take on Google and Yahoo.

Vodafone, France Telecom, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Hutchison Whampoa, Telecom Italia and American service provider, Cingular, among others, are to meet for talks next week at the industry's flagship conference in Barcelona. The aim will be to corner a share of the increasingly lucrative advertising-funded online search market in the face of declining revenues from lowered call charges. The move will come as a surprise to both Google and Yahoo, who have already signed deals with some of the operators.

Google has contracts with Vodafone and T-Mobile to provide the service, while Yahoo has agreed deals with Vodafone and 3. The current agreements also extend beyond service providers to the manufacturers as Google's search programme will come as standard on Samsung handsets.

Although no precise strategy has yet come out, the service providers look set to either band together to claim a greater share of the revenues from the existing search engine or they will join to develop an alternative system.

With the ongoing roll out of 3G (third generation) telephones and the increasing availability of broadband speed internet facilities on mobile telephone handsets in the developed world, any future deal is likely to prove highly profitable as consumers continue a lifestyle switch to take advantage of unrestricted web access.

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