From today’s WSJ (sub. req’d):
Envisioning a lucrative wireless search and advertising market, U.S. cellphone companies are shying away from deals with Internet giants such as Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. in favor of partnerships with small start-ups they can more easily control. [emphasis added]
Google, Yahoo and other Internet companies are targeting wireless search as a major new growth area as cellphone use proliferates globally. They see billions of dollars in potential revenue from selling advertising that is linked to searches for ringtones, games, local listings and mobile Web content.
The search giants have had some success overseas, but they have still had difficulty penetrating the large U.S. carriers, which ultimately control access to the nation’s nearly 217 million cellular subscribers.
Wireless carriers are mindful of what happened with ISPs on the Internet: they failed to develop brands and content offerings that resonated with consumers and were largely bypassed in favor of sites like Google and Yahoo!
Related: In the battle of carriers vs. handset makers, Nokia starts tests of Wi-Fi Internet mobile calls:
Nokia . . .has started its first tests of a technology that allows users to roam seamlessly between phone networks and local wireless hotspots such as Wi-Fi.
Fifty families in Oulu near the polar circle in northern Finland will test the technology over the next two months, Nokia said on Thursday.
Mobile subscribers with handsets enabled for so-called unlicensed mobile access, or UMA, can make calls over the Internet when they are in range of an unlicensed wireless network such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
The article suggests this might be helpful to carriers, but it might equally be unhelpful and push them to lower rates for both data and voice if people can freely opt out of carrier networks when they’re in WiFi coverage areas. It also might motivate forward-thinking carriers to collectively build out WiFi networks themselves to try and capture that usage and revenue.