Yahoo auction, directory go wireless

Yahoo Inc. yesterday announced wireless versions of its auction, movie listing and Web directory services as part of an effort to strengthen the company's position in the nascent market for delivering Internet content to mobile phones and other portable devices.

The new services can be accessed on any mobile phone or device that supports Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) and add to Yahoo's existing wireless offerings, which include e-mail, stock quotes, news and calendaring, Yahoo officials said yesterday.

There are an estimated 5 million WAP-enabled phones in use in the U.S., and analysts expect that number to grow rapidly as more wireless Internet services become available, Mohan Vishwanath, vice president of Yahoo Everywhere, Yahoo's wireless division, said in an interview.

"Our goal is to make Yahoo's services available to users wherever they are, no matter what type of device they use to access the Internet," Vishwanath said.

Absent from the new services announced yesterday is an application that would allow mobile users to shop online. Yahoo is likely to offer a wireless version of Yahoo Shopping by year's end, Vishwanath said.

The portal company said it hopes the new services will help compete against rivals like America Online Inc. and Microsoft Corp.'s Microsoft Network, which are also battling to take an early lead in the wireless data market.

The auction service announced yesterday, called Yahoo Auctions to Go, lets users make bids and watch the progress of auctions that are under way on the Internet. An alert feature will notify a user when he has been outbid, Vishwanath said.

Yahoo Movies on the Move helps users quickly locate a theater in their local area, read the synopsis of a movie and check show times. The information provided is based on the address provided when a user registers for Yahoo's services, although a different location can be searched if the user is away from home.

Wireless Yahoo Directory Services is modeled after the directory on the company's main online portal and includes a list of Web sites whose content has been reformatted for mobile phones using Wireless Markup Language (WML) or Handheld Device Markup Language (HDML).

A fourth new wireless service announced yesterday allows new users to register for Yahoo's personalized content and services from their phone rather than from their PC.

"These devices might be the first point of Internet access for some users, particularly in other parts of the world, so we wanted to allow people to register for Yahoo through their phone," Vishwanath said.

Yahoo served about 120 million unique users last December and about 100 million people are registered users, Vishwanath said. He declined to say how many users have signed up for Yahoo's mobile services since they were launched last June.

Yahoo has partnered with a number of service providers to distribute its wireless services to users. The partners include Sprint PCS in the U.S., Bell Mobility in Canada, D2 Mannesmann Mobilfunk in Germany, SmarTone and New World in Hong Kong, Radiolinja in Finland and SK Telecom and Hansol PCS in Korea. The company has also teamed up with device makers including Motorola Inc. and Palm Inc.

Copyright © 2000 IDG Communications, Inc.

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