Wednesday, March 5, 2008

ATT: Microsoft, Yahoo Eye Larger Slices Of Mobile Pie | Online Media Daily

MICROSOFT AND YAHOO SENT CLEAR signals Tuesday in separate announcements that both have set their sights on grabbing a larger piece of the mobile space, as advertising and marketing opportunities continue to rise. Microsoft signed a deal with Nokia to bring its Silverlight developer platform to the Series 60, which runs on the Symbian operating system. Nokia, the biggest seller of smartphones, also plans to offer the software in Internet-tablet devices.

Silverlight, which gives software developers tools to create animation and video for the Web, already powers thousands of applications worldwide for "Entertainment Tonight" and NBC Universal, among others. Microsoft has been marketing Silverlight to media partners, as well as dumping Flash-based content from its own sites, replacing it with applications built on Silverlight as a way to spur adoption for the technology.

Internet marketing didn't take off until ads became more graphic, visual and tied together smoothly with content. Analysts expect the same to happen for advertising and marketing on mobile phones because the deal pits Microsoft against Adobe's Flash in the mobile phone market, where its animation and video software hasn't caught on.

Strengthening its position among advertising and marketing agencies, Microsoft appears to be sending a message to designers and developers who create rich media for the Web that they are serious about online and mobile ads.

"Microsoft is trying to go after the big community of Flash developers that Adobe wants to migrate onto mobile," said John du Pre Gauntt, senior analyst at research firm eMarketer. "That's because if you want to work on Madison Avenue as an interactive designer and don't know Flash, or a program like Silverlight, people look at you as if you're illiterate."

Advertising revenue on mobile devices should reach $16.2 billion worldwide by 2011--up from nearly $5 billion this year, estimates eMarketer.

Aiming squarely at Google's advertising and search business on mobile devices, Yahoo launched onePlace, a mobile bookmarking tool scheduled to debut in Q2 that would allow users to aggregate and filter favorite content and information from across the Web. The application for mobile devices marks links, news feeds and search results. It sorts and filters content into more than 50 categories, serving up the media to cellular phones in bite-size pieces on any browser.

For example, news stories and accompanying photos--or flight information and weather for a specific region in the world--would serve-up in bite-size pieces on mobile device screens. Consumers can view the content instantly, or store and save it for later. The application complements Yahoo's mobile search tool oneSearch, and oneConnect, which integrates email, phone numbers, text and IM addresses in one location.

Bookmarking and filtering tools aren't new. Yahoo also owns, a bookmarking tool for PCs, but small screens on mobile devices require different views of content.

Will the two mobile apps work together if Microsoft acquires Yahoo? Probably not, du Pre Gauntt said. "You're talking about two applications built on completely different platforms; one proprietary and the other open," he says.

Despite differences in culture and applications, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told reporters Monday at CeBit in Hanover, Germany that the Redmond, Wash. company still wants Yahoo--although analysts aren't clear whether Microsoft's $42 billion bid for Yahoo, made public Feb. 1, can even work.

Laurie Sullivan can be reached at
by Laurie Sullivan, Wednesday, Mar 5, 2008 7:30 AM ET
Online Media Daily

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