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‘Yahoo Go’ links Web services to phones, TVs

Yahoo Inc. is expanding its presence beyond the PC, moving onto Web-enabled cell phones and other mobile devices so users can access their customized content while untethered.
Las Vegas Hosts International Consumer Electronics Show
Consumers "want that ability to take that information with them wherever they go," Yahoo CEO Terry Semel said Friday in his speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
/ Source: Reuters

Yahoo Inc., the world’s largest Internet media company, Friday unveiled a new service that will make using its Web, media and personal services as easy to use on mobile phones and TVs as on computers.

Chief Executive Terry Semel said products marketed under the newly established Yahoo Go brand reflected consumer demands to easily access information wherever they like and to customize the way in which they view the Web and the world.

“We think the Internet isn’t just a Web page,” Semel told the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the largest U.S. electronics convention. “Connecting the Internet to any device you might imagine” is the next stage of the Web, he added.

CES embraced the Web as never before this year and Semel pleaded with hardware makers to work with Yahoo to make its services available everywhere. Announcements during the week showed Web connectivity is becoming standard on many communications devices well beyond the PC.

The Web media company’s new products include Yahoo Go Mobile and Yahoo Go TV. A third product, Yahoo Go Desktop, will tie the phone and TV services to the personal computer, the most common way of using Yahoo services.

But there are nearly 2 billion cell phones worldwide, roughly double last year’s Web use, Semel noted as an indication of where the Web would grow.

Rival Google Inc. is expected to introduce an online video service and an industry effort to improve PC ease of use.

The phone service is a logical extension of Yahoo’s efforts to become a standard channel on mobile phone screens instead of being available only on special phones via Web browsers.

The television plan, which represents a far more ambitious and early-stage effort, will target consumers buying PC-linked TVs with fast Internet connections.

Semel and other Yahoo executives said the Internet media company’s recent push to encourage users to create more information, reviews, Web logs and other shared information could now extend to other devices.

“For many, many years, we grew up where somewhere else was the programmer. That dynamic has completely changed,” Semel said.

The Yahoo Go service will be embedded on millions of Nokia phones sold worldwide. Yahoo is also working with U.S. phone partners AT&T Inc. and Cingular Wireless.

Yahoo Go Mobile will be available in the United States in coming weeks. Consumers buying certain Nokia 6630, 6680, 6681 and N70 devices -- all so-called Series 60 smartphones -- will receive the Yahoo Go Mobile service preinstalled.

Roughly 10 countries, including Britain, Germany, France, Singapore, India, Malaysia, the Philippines and Australia, are to follow in the first quarter, a spokeswoman said.

Yahoo will launch Yahoo Go Mobile with AT&T and Cingular in the traditional 13-state local phone service region of AT&T in the southern and western United States. It will also be available in a handful of other unspecified markets, they said.

Cingular is the largest U.S. wireless carrier. It is jointly owned by AT&T and BellSouth Corp., the No. 3 U.S. provider of local phone service.

Yahoo Go marks the latest step in a four-year program through which Yahoo has formed broadband marketing partnerships with major communications carriers in the United States, Canada and Britain, executives said.

Within the 13-state AT&T core service region, the partners will offer a co-branded Go Mobile service for existing AT&T-Yahoo broadband customers to link their home Internet access with their mobile phones.

Yahoo Go TV will allow consumers to link their existing base of Yahoo contacts and resources directly into their televisions, allowing them to watch digital photos and to check news, sports or other Yahoo services from the same account they use on their computer or mobile phone.

Yahoo demonstrated the new products on machines using Intel Corp.’snew Viiv chips and a demonstration computer stopped working at one point in the presentation.

“I think it’s a Windows problem,” Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini quipped, laughing at his long term partner Microsoft Corp.’s possible role.

“I would tend to agree,” Semel quickly added.