Yahoo! Inc announced that it is providing mobile text messaging with local search from the desktop, reflecting the trend among search engines to target the growing popularity of cellular-phone messaging, particularly among teenagers and young adults.
Using Yahoo’s new service, a user can look up a restaurant or other business on Yahoo’s main portal, and then click “send to phone” to send a text message containing the contact information of the business.
The service, which launched this week and uses SMS (short message service) technology, is available at no charge from Yahoo, but individual wireless carriers may charge separately for sending a text message.
Robert Lerner, an analyst for Current Analysis noted that this may apple a to a wide range of users. “This may be a future driver (for subscribers),” Lerner said. “Text messaging is really catching on with kids and young adults. This is going to be really cool for them.”
“There´s a lot of limitations to (SMS) right now, but don´t be surprised if in the future someone doesn´t find a way to insert an ad and make a buck,” Lerner said. “It´s going to be tough on a small screen, but it´s going to be there.”
Chris Winfield, president of search engine marketing firm 10E20, said the explosion of mobile phone use over the past several years is one logical reason search companies are moving in this direction.
“Mobile devices are the next evolution in controlling the search market,” he said.
Winfield also said the move comes at a time when competition in the Web search market is heating up, and big name players are constantly looking to gain market share in an increasingly competitive landscape.
“Yahoo is always trying to keep users interested, knowing that they have to be proactive in order to keep people on their site,” he said.
Yahoo said the service is available with U.S. wireless carriers, Cingular/AT&T Wireless, Verizon, Sprint/Nextel and T-Mobile. Although the company offers the service for free, some carriers may charge SMS fees.