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Yahoo announces integrated phone service

/ Source: The Associated Press

Yahoo Inc. on Tuesday announced a new mobile phone service that integrates e-mail, instant messaging and social networks.

Called oneConnect, the service is expected to launch this spring, Marco Boerries, executive vice president for Connected Life at Yahoo, said Tuesday at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona. Its open architecture means users and other companies can eventually add many other applications to it.

"The key driving force in opening up the platform is putting content into the device. No company can create these ecosystems alone. We have to be open," Boerries said.

Boerries also announced cell phone carrier T-Mobile will offer Yahoo's Internet search service to its European customers in late March, shifting away from Google. T-Mobile will offer Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Messenger, as well as Yahoo's oneSearch, which provides news, financial information, photos, Web pages and other services.

The announcements in Barcelona come as Yahoo copes with Microsoft Corp.'s unsolicited bid for Yahoo and as Yahoo completed an acquisition of its own, buying online video service Maven Networks Inc. for $160 million. Yahoo on Monday rejected Microsoft's offer, originally valued at $44.6 billion or $31 a share.

On oneConnect, social networks will be integrated into contact lists, which in turn can be used to link into various ways of keeping in touch with friends, or keeping tabs on them — allowing users access to a wide range of services from Yahoo Messenger to Google Talk to AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger.

Among other features, the address book will signal whether a contact is online and show his status as listed on social networks he belongs to — Facebook, MySpace and others allow users to notify friends of their whereabouts and activities.

Users with GPS also will be able to check the position of contacts. Yahoo has deals with 29 operators with 600 million potential users — up from 60 million a year ago, Boerries said. OneConnect will roll out first in the United States.

Google officials in Barcelona did not return a call or e-mail seeking comment. Terms of the T-Mobile deal were not disclosed.