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Yahoo updates mobile search tool

Company is pushing its mobile search hard as it upgrades to version 2.0 and strikes expanded deals to embed its software in more phones.

Yahoo is aggressively moving into the mobile search market with updated software and expanded deals to preload its software onto millions of handsets.

The company announced the latest version of its Yahoo Go 2.0 mobile phones Monday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It also said that the new software would be preloaded onto more than 70 mobile handset models from top manufacturers including Motorola, Nokia, Samsung Electronics and Research In Motion.

Yahoo is going after the mobile market aggressively as it tries to compete with Web search rival Google. With nearly 3 billion cell phone users expected throughout the world by the end of 2007, it's no wonder that Yahoo, as well as competitors such as Google, are interested in adapting regular Web services, such as search, for mobile users. Google has also been introducing new services for the cell phone small screen, including search.

Yahoo has been offering a version of its mobile search tool for a year. But until now, the software has been relatively unsophisticated. The new 2.0 version of Go will change that, the company said. Specifically, it includes a feature called "oneSearch," which makes it easier for consumers to get information through an enhanced directory of local businesses and maps.

The service is free and will come preinstalled on some phones from manufacturers. It will also be available for cell phone subscribers to download. The company plans to use advertising to generate revenue.

While Internet companies, such as Yahoo and Google, see huge potential in the mobile market, none of the traditional search companies dominates the mobile world. This is mostly because the cell phone operators still control which applications can run on phones that operate on their networks.

Many of the carriers have begun working with smaller companies and then branding the service as their own. For example, Alltel is working with a company called JumpTap, which has developed its mobile search service. And T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless have each announced they're working with Medio Systems.