EU Mobile Carriers to Challenge G, Y!

Here’s a UK newspaper article about 3GSM and the apparently joint efforts of EU-based mobile carriers (and Cingular) to develop mobile search and advertising technology. The article argues this is driven by economic necessity:

Europe’s biggest telecoms groups are aiming to create a mobile phone search engine that could challenge Yahoo! and Google, the US giants.

Vodafone, France Telecom, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Hutchison Whampoa, Telecom Italia and one American network, Cingular, are among the companies that will come together for secret, high-level talks at the mobile industry’s biggest annual trade show in Barcelona next week.

Faced with declining revenues as calls become cheaper, network operators are determined to secure a large slice of the lucrative search advertising market.

Currently JumpTap and Medio Systems offer white label search and advertising platforms/solutions to the carriers, with more competition to come.

The challenge for these carriers is that their approaches will need to work MORE effectively and offer a much better user experience than what Google, Yahoo! or Microsoft/Live offer. (MSFT, btw, has done an extensive partnership deal with Sprint, which flies in the face of the carrier paranoia about search).

Microsoft is a case-in-point. The company, despite having a good search engine with some compelling features, has not made the case to consumers and has not offered a sufficiently differentiated experience to get people to switch. Indeed, the company has lost market share since launching the Live brand.

An alternative approach to developing your own engine/paid-search platform would be to partner with Google or Yahoo! and take a cut of ad revenue. But some would argue that makes you dependent on G, Y! or M and gives you limited bargaining power.

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