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Virgin Mobile Taps JumpTap for Mobile Search Technology

Virgin Mobile and JumpTap have announced a partnership that will see JumpTap’s mobile search engine technology powering Virgin’s cell phones.

Launching in February, this new search functionality will make it simple for Virgin Mobile customers to quickly discover the broadest amount of content they’re looking for, both within Virgin Mobiles own suite of content (i.e., on-portal), as well as out on the mobile Web (off-portal).

The deal not only enhances the search experience for Virgin Mobile’s cell phone users, but also opens up new advertising options with relevant sponsored links being delivered alongside organic search results.

Hat-tip to Ben Wills.

Ask.com Launches AskCity

Ask.com has taken its existing maps service, combined it with content from parent-company IAC’s CitySearch and Ticketmaster, stirred the ingredients and baked at 400F for 20 minutes. The result? A great new way to search for business, events, movies and maps using a new service called AskCity.

The interface is easy to use, and the 3-panel layout means you’ll keep track of your search. The integration of IAC’s CitySearch and Ticketmaster, means you can also purchase tickets for your favorite events!

Just one question for Ask.com. How hard is it to coordinate the launch with your own blog announcement? This is a great launch and shows how Ask will continue to benefit from IAC, so this two-line note on your blog doesn’t cut-it. Sorry.

Mobile Phone Operators Quaking in their Boots

It appears mobile phone operators are trying a new tact in their effort to compete with mobile app providers – begging them to stop.

Chris Sacca, head of special initiatives at Google, told an event at Oxford University’s Said Business School that “we’ve been getting notes from some of the telco carriers who are saying ‘look, you need to stop our customers from downloading this thing’.”

If only Alta Vista had thought to ask Google not to start a search engine, they might still be in business.

“Look, Larry, you and Sergey have created this new search engine and it’s simply taking away our user-base. You need to pull the plug on Google or else!” ;-)

Google Click-to-Call Subject to Phone Pranks?

For a brief time yesterday, TechCrunch speculated that Google had removed its Click-to-Call function on Google Maps, due to prank calls. The post was later updated to confirm the function was still in place.

It does raise an interesting question about the potential for abuse. What is to stop someone from simply clicking dozens of links and entering the phone numbers of friends, enemies or premium numbers?

I can see the spammers making their plans now. Within weeks we’ll hear about a wave of businesses receiving phone calls with recorded messages from an ousted prince in Nigeria.

Microsoft to Provide Mobile Search Ads to Sprint

ClickZ reports Sprint has joined forces with Microsoft to display pay-per-call ads and search on its phones.

The deal will make Microsoft’s fledgling Windows Live Search for mobile product available to Sprint wireless users…Sprint users will be able to use the Windows Live Search technology to perform local area searches, according to the companies.

Ingenio is reportedly the provider of the pay-per-call infrastructure.

Local Internet Ad Spending to Double by 2010

The Kelsey Group has released its annual prediction on the global increase in local search and online classifieds spending.

According to ClickZ

The forecast asserts the local search segment will grow from $3.4 billion in 2005 to $13 billion in 2010, with online classifieds growing from $12.3 billion to $18.1 billion. Overall local search and online classified spending will grow from $15.7 billion in 2005 to twice that, or $31.1 billion, in 2010.

It makes a lot of sense. As more and more small business discover the value of online advertising, they’ll also want solutions that are tailored to their local audience.

Google Launches New Version of Mobile Gmail

Google’s hoping to encourage more people to access their Gmail account via their cell phone, with the launch of a new downloadable Java application.

The new software will work on any of the 300+ Java-enabled cell phones in the United States and promises to offer a better interface and easier access.

CNET reports

In addition to being faster, Gmail for Mobile Devices maintains Gmail functions like threading and search, and adds mobile-specific functionality such as the ability to press a button to make a call to someone who sent an e-mail. People can also view attachments, such as photos, in an optimized full-screen format.

You can see the full list of compatible phones here. To download, point your phone’s browser to http://gmail.com/app