Culture

Danger to bring Yahoo Messenger to handhelds

The company is adding a second instant-messaging client to wireless devices that are based on its software and services, following positive buzz about its efforts with America Online.

Danger is providing a second instant-messaging client to wireless devices that rely on its software and services, following positive buzz about its efforts with America Online.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Danger announced on Monday that it is teaming with Yahoo to add Yahoo Messenger to its Hiptop software platform. Hiptop devices are all-in-one wireless keyboard gadgets that let consumers make cell phone calls and access e-mail and the Web.

The Messenger-equipped Hiptop platform will first be installed in Hiptop devices used with wireless service from Singaporean carrier StarHub. StarHub is Danger's first Asian carrier partner and sells Hiptop devices for $288 with a two-year cellular plan. Other carriers are expected to offer the Yahoo Messenger-equipped Hiptop platform in the coming months.

Instant messaging has become a significant feature for consumers using devices based on Danger's software. Unlike other wireless-software developers, such as Research In Motion and Good Technology, that are focusing on business customers, Danger is targeting consumers, many of whom have taken to instant-messaging capabilities.

"IM is American SMS, and it makes sense to offer that popular feature to your core audience," said Kevin Burden, an analyst at research firm IDC. SMS, or Short Message System, is a form of wireless communications over cell phones that's popular in Europe and Asia. "(Yahoo Messenger) isn't available on any other device, so there is a base of users who have no way to get it from a mobile device."

Danger has been offering AOL's Instant Messenger service in Hiptop devices and has gotten a positive response, causing the two companies to tighten their relationship. Last year, Danger and AOL gave AOL subscribers wireless access to their e-mail accounts via devices running Danger's software and services. T-Mobile's Sidekick device, which uses Danger's software, comes with AOL Instant Messenger.

"Instant messaging is really the 'killer application' on the Hiptop device," Danger chief executive Hank Nothhaft said in a release.