David Garrett, newsfactor.com
There was a time when mobile phones just made phone calls -- or, to be more precise, tried to make phone calls, forcing their owners to cope with dropped signals, bad static, and all kinds of on-the-road woes. But times do change.
Today's mobile phones can handle two and three calls at a time, not to mention high-speed downloads of movie clips or a search for the closest dry cleaner. And let's not forget about photos, e-books, and the music from Beyonce to Bach.
With this week's announcement of a new version of Yahoo Go for Mobile, the search-engine giant, already vying for pole position with Google, hopes to establish itself as the leader in the mobile Web-browsing market, too.
Yahoo Go for Mobile 2.0 is still in beta form and open to owners of Motorola's RAZR maxx V6 and V3xx phones only -- two models that attract Web-savvy, connected users who see no reason not to read e-mail wherever they are.
But Yahoo plans to expand the download to more than 70 handsets in2007, along with preinstallations from major phone makers and distribution deals with cellular networks that span the globe from Malaysia to Sweden to Ireland, with half a dozen stops in between.
"Yahoo intends to be the number one mobile Internet player globally," said Marco Boerries, Yahoo's senior vice president of connected life, in a published statement.
Indeed, "connected life" is a good moniker for Yahoo's plans. Yahoo Go2.0 gives users no small number of mobile features to connect them to information they need.
First up is Yahoo's new oneSearch, which intuits the information that users want, ferrets it out of database systems and Web sites, then presents it in synopsis form, as opposed to handing users a set of Web links for them to delve into themselves.
If it's baseball season and you're a Yankees fan, oneSearch will take the team's name then return the scores from its most recent game, along with game schedules, team rosters, photos, local results, and so on, according to Yahoo.
Yahoo Go's Local & Maps feature works much like Google Maps, searching phone books for business listings around the country. If you want a good slice of Chicago pizza in Los Angeles or the nearest California Pizza Kitchen in Chicago, each mobile service will find it for you -- along with user reviews, ratings, and directions.
Yahoo's service also features many of the old standards that users now see as par for the course from mobile information vendors, including e-mail, news, weather, stock quotes, and so forth. But Yahoo makes each feature -- which it calls a "widget" -- revolve around a "command center" that gives users the chance to scavenge for more information, including RSS feeds from Web sites, blogs, and news services.
Last, Yahoo Go 2.0 offers a photo sharing widget that lets users upload photos from their phones' on-board cameras to Flickr, the photo sharing site that has become a linchpin of the social networking movement known as Web 2.0.
Indeed, sites like Flickr, MySpace (the teen and tween fiefdom for making friends and building personal Web sites), and Digg (where users stock the site with news stories they like) all can be accessed from mobile phones, some with special features that make mobile viewing simpler.
The bottom line? "Out of the office" or "out of the house" no longer mean "out of touch." As data becomes a common houseguest on cell phone handsets, life, to use Yahoo's word, is growing more connected by the day.
Copyright 2007 NewsFactor Network, Inc.
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