Surfing the Web on a personal computer will become old-fashioned in less than ten years when the majority of Internet users are expected to access the Net through their mobile handsets, Geraldine Wilson, vice president of Yahoo! Europe Connected Life, told EURACTIV in an interview.
The IT giant, one of the leading companies in the growing mobile Internet market, predicts that by 2016 mobile handsets will take over PCs as the main devices to access the Internet. “Currently there are approximately a billion PCs and three billion mobiles. It is easy to see why we think mobile is such a huge opportunity,” Wilson told EURACTIV.
She was speaking ahead of the FT Business of Mobile Conference due to take place on 19-20 May in Brussels.
With or without a merger with Microsoft, Yahoo! is aiming to increase its offer of dedicated services for the mobile market with the goal of becoming the leader in search and advertising, Wilson said.
Last year Yahoo! launched oneSearch, a service to help users search on the Web through their mobiles by providing more relevant results to their queries and thus reducing the time spent on search engines. With deals signed with 29 telecom operators across the world, Yahoo! already boasts a potential 600 million users for its new service.
Advertising on mobile handsets is the next frontier and Yahoo! is not worried about users’ potential negative reaction to graphic ads popping up in their phone’s displays. “What we think is that users are very positive towards this kind of advertising if they are relevant,” said Wilson, underlining the advantages for customers, who will get cheaper or free content in exchange for the ads they receive.
After oneSearch, Yahoo! plans to launch a voice-enabling search service in Europe (already launched in the US) and oneConnect, a data aggregator which allows users to spread information across social networking websites. Both new services are expected to be launched progressively from 2008 onwards in domestic EU markets.
Privacy concerns do not currently worry Yahoo! “We are very mindful of the privacy laws and very committed to ensuring we can operate with the deep trust of consumers in terms of privacy,” Wilson said.
EU regulators have taken steps to encourage the take-up of wireless internet on a mass market scale. Last year, the European Commission set out the conditions for the use of ultra-wideband technology (UWB), ensuring that all countries across the EU-27 use the same radio frequencies for the technology (EURACTIV 22/02/07).