Cellcos plan a Google rival

5 Feb 2007

British broadsheet the Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday that some of Europe’s biggest telecoms groups are planning to create a wireless search engine that could challenge the likes of Yahoo! and Google. Vodafone, France Telecom, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Hutchison Whampoa, Telecom Italia and US-based Cingular are among the companies that are expected to hold secret high-level talks next week at 3GSM, the mobile industry’s largest annual trade show in Barcelona. The move is predicated by declining call revenues, which in turn is driving cellcos together to compete against Google and Yahoo!. Faced with falling turnover, network operators are determined to secure a larger slice of the lucrative search advertising market. The Telegraph report adds that the networks may decide to go with an existing search engine and use their combined might to secure a majority slice of the income or instead create a white label service, with a single advertising sales house and technical team, to which mobile networks could then apply their own brand. It is not clear what the implications are for existing deals between networks and the big US search companies. Google has already signed up Vodafone and T-Mobile, as well as Hutchison’s 3 and China Mobile. Its service also comes pre-loaded on handsets made by companies including Samsung. Yahoo! has existing deals with Vodafone and 3, and is already featuring sponsored links.