[January 03, 2007]

Google, China Mobile to Launch Mobile Search

(Comtex Business Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) BEIJING, Jan 03, 2007 (SinoCast China IT Watch via COMTEX) --"Google has entered into a partnership with China Mobile on launching mobile search services", confirmed a Google chief for mobile search.


Careful mobile phone users may have found a search icon when logging on to www.monternet.com. Once inputting key words, users can search ringtones, pictures, flash and online games within this website.

The tieup, to some extent, represents Google's headway in its localization, commented Lu Benfu, dean of the school of economics & management under China Academy of Sciences.

Google's global chief executive Eric Schmidt has met China Mobile chairman Wang Jianzhou during his visit to China in April of 2006 and has basically ascertained such a partnership at that time, a Goolge staff told journalists.

"Monternet Search" services which Google has provided for China Mobile have been available on five models of mobile phones, including Nokia 6681. After the availability of such services one or two weeks ago, the "Monternet Search" traffic has been swelling, added the above-mentioned staff.

As early as March of 2006, Baidu.com, the strongest rival for Google, has implanted its Chinese-language search service in Nokia mobile phones. The two giants have inked a 2-year agreement on developing the Chinese-language search market of Chinese Mainland and Hong Kong and have planned to launch voice search and music search in the future.

Five months later, Baidu.com announced its building of the fast search function in Haier A600 mobile phones, which allows users to search for information at any time by logging on to WAP.baidu.com.

Apart from Baidu.com, iAsk of Sina and Sougou of Sohu have committed themselves to mobile search. At the same time, a number of small- and medium-sized companies have been devoting to mobile search of free WAP website.

Baidu.com's mobile search services only touch upon word search, while the Google-China Mobile cooperation focuses more on multimedia search, including color ring back tone, picture, flash and online game.

Mobile phone is a multimedia platform, especially in China, it is embodied by the download of ringtones and pictures. Moreover, Google regards multimedia search as the development trend for mobile search, explained the staff.

The Google-China Mobile cooperation has not run on the search for other information, except for "Monternet" contents within the website. That is out of consideration of intellectual property rights. The sources of a large quantity of ringtones and pictures are unclear, while the sources of "Monternet" contents come from content providers (CP) which have been audited by China Mobile.

Besides the partnership on mobile search, Google can not rule out the possibility of their future collaboration on local information search, the implantation of Google Earth, and so forth.

As a matter of fact, Google has treated mobile search as one of the core strategies for the Asian-Pacific and even the global market.

It has formed mobile search R&D teams in London, New York, Canada, Munich and Beijing, with 100-plus engineers.

At the beginning of December 2006, Kai-fu Lee, president for Google Greater China Region, left for Taiwan and started a three-week negotiation with Chunghwa Telecom, the local largest telecom carrier, upon a cooperation on mobile search.

On December 25, the two parties reached an agreement, whereby they agree to provide mobile search services for Tainwan users and share revenues from such services.

The hookup with Chunghwa Telecom is only the first step, and there are too many opportunities for Google to partner with Chinese telecom firms, said Kai-fu Lee.

Although China Mobile is the world's largest carrier by mobile phone users and has taken a 70% market share, whether the recent partnership can help Google consolidate its advantage in the search segment shall still be observed in future, with an eye to too many obscure factors, such as 3G.

From www.economicdaily.com.cn, Page 1, Tuesday, January 02, 2007
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