Ask.com goes mobile

The search site launches service designed specifically for cell phones and handheld devices.

Ask.com has joined the mobile fray, launching a Web search service designed specifically for cell phones and handheld devices on Thursday.

Ask Mobile Search features navigation shortcuts to minimize keystrokes and provides direct access to key search categories on the home page, like directions, image search, business listings, maps and weather, according to the company, a subsidiary of InterActiveCorp.

The service uses technology called Skweezer that squeezes Web pages so they appear in a format that is easier to view on small displays and increases download speed. Ask Mobile Search also lets people automatically dial numbers from listings, select driving or walking directions, and send maps and directions to mobile phones.

The service will be ad-free.

The major search engines have been moving fast into the mobile space. And others are already offering advertising on the mobile services, anticipating that people using mobile phones to search the Web will likely make a transaction by visiting a merchant.

On Monday, Microsoft said it plans to place ads on MSN's Windows Live Search for Mobile service that will let people click on an ad to place a call to the advertiser.

Last week, Yahoo launched a beta version of sponsored search results on mobile phones in the United States and United Kingdom. In July, Google updated its services for mobile users.

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