Yahoo has moved to reassure carriers that it isn't trying to cut them out of the loop with its mobile content services. The move comes even as Yahoo rolls out new mobile phone and search services for customers.
Mobile operators are increasingly nervous that companies such as Yahoo and Google will go direct to users with mobile content services, using their networks to offer so-called "over-the-top services" that don't give operators a cut of the revenue. These concerns have grown as content companies refine their mobile offerings and look for ways to make them available to users.
However, David Ko, vice president and general manager of Yahoo's mobile and broadband business in Asia, said today: "Yahoo wants to work with operators for an optimised experience."
During a speech today at the CommunicAsia Summit, Ko announced that six Asian operators will use Yahoo's mobile search engine, called oneSearch. They are Globe Telecom in the Philippines, India's Idea Cellular, South Korea's LG Telecom, Maxis Communications in Malaysia, Indonesia's PT Telekomunikasi Selular and Taiwan Mobile.
These operators, which represent about 100 million subscribers, have agreed to use Yahoo's oneSearch in exchange for a portion of revenue from the mobile search service, Ko said, declining to detail specific terms of the deals.
Most of the revenue will come from advertising, he said.
In addition, operators will generate revenue from increased data charges as users access the search engine.
The announcement that six operators will use oneSearch is an important win for Yahoo in Southeast Asia, where cellular-phone penetration rates outstrip the availability of PCs. Yahoo has long been a presence in the region, where its services are widely used. But competition is heating up: Google opened its Singapore office in May, announcing plans to set up an R&D center and expand its business in Southeast Asia.