Vodafone, China Mobile, and Softbank in mobile net tie-up

A trio of mobile companies including two global giants will collaborate to find more ways to profit from and develop mobile phone-based internet use, the Financial Times reported.

A trio of mobile companies including two global giants will collaborate to find more ways to profit from and develop mobile phone-based internet use, the Financial Times reported.

Vodafone, the biggest-earning mobile company, China Mobile, the company with the largest user base, and Softbank, the third-place Japanese carrier, form the coalition.

FT writes, "The collaboration underlines how mobile operators are keen to stop internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo dominating the provision of potentially lucrative services on the wireless internet."

Indeed, Google is working on ever more wireless applications. At WWW2008 in Beijing on Wednesday, Google's president for Greater China, Kai-Fu Lee, gave a speech on "cloud computing" -- the idea that data will be stored online and accessible from a variety of devices, following users from device to device rather than tying people to individual machines.

A catalyst for this kind of usage, he said, is the iPhone. "As the Apple iPhone hit the market our back end servers really noticed," Lee said. "Even though the iPhone's [market] share is not large, on a per-phone basis the web usage is about 15 times more than other web-capable phones."

Mobile carriers so far have not been noted for their excellence in designing mobile services. With giants like Google, Yahoo, and Baidu on the scene, the carriers will have their work cut out for them. Perhaps we should expect to see joint-development deals...

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