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Yahoo’s Mobile Expansion: Ready, Set, Go!

We’ll put aside Yahoo’s CEO woes and turn our attention to their continued expansion of mobile services. The company has already made many announcements over the past few weeks, and tomorrow they’ll officially make two new mobile announcements.

First up, Yahoo’s announcing new features for Yahoo! Go for Mobile 2.0 including:

  • Faster than ever before ? Greatly increased speed, including substantially reduced loading time, makes it even more fun to use.
  • Even better e-mail ? Ability to read more types of attachments, including PDF files and Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents, and access to Yahoo! Mail folders.
  • More powerful maps ? View both satellite and hybrid maps, current traffic conditions and optional GPS integration on select devices, including the Blackberry 8800.

Opera Mini 4 Steals iPhone Thunder

Opera has released a beta version, codenamed Dimension, of Mini 4.0 – the company’s mobile browser – bringing the iPhone’s surf and zoom facility (overview mode) to any handset!

Opera Mini 4 - Overview Mode

With a few other goodies thrown in – fuller CSS compatibility and faster (more economical) page loading – both existing users and new alike will be tempted. Check out the demo here.

According to the press release more than 15 million handsets already have the Opera browser installed. Jon von Tetzchner, CEO, thanked the mobile community in advance of the 4.0 beta feedback:

Opera Mini has succeeded only due to the support of the people who have made it the most popular mobile browser available today

Broadsheets To Leverage Text Messaging

USA TODAY is to print short code numbers that readers can text message to access real-time news, whilst the Financial Times will run an in-store poster campaign across 1,250 retail outlets offering cash vouchers in reply to a text response.

Matt Jones, director of mobile strategy at Gannett Digital, a unit of USA TODAY’s parent company, confirms:

a lot of marketers are thinking of how they can best leverage mobile phone users

The US broadsheet publisher will combine a mobile search platform with standard-rate text messaging in an effort to provide up-to-the-minute news on the go – including sports scores, weather forecasts and stock quotes.

Mobile is basically a downstream distribution point for all of the national and local content we produce… We want to make our news and information available to consumers in the format that they choose.

1/3 Mobile Content Revenues from Premium SMS

The Center for Media Research today reports on a new study on mobile content revenue, the Telephia Premium SMS Report. In Q1 2007, premium SMS brought in $273M, or 32% of all mobile content revenues.

For this study, premium SMS included everything from voting for American Idol to “off-portal storefront purchases,” which included ringtones, screensavers and the like. Naturally, off-portal storefront purchases generated the highest amount of revenue: $214.9M or 79% of premium SMS revenue.

Other large revenue categories included voting and sweepstakes entries, with $35.4M (13%), chat/community, with $5.7M (2%), and “other,” with $17.4M (6%).

Microsoft Launches New Design for MSN Mobile

Reuters is reporting a redesign for Microsoft’s MSN for mobile phones.

Microsoft’s new MSN Mobile portal — http://mobile.msn.com — offers news, sports information, entertainment features and access to services like e-mail, search, maps and instant messaging all on one page.

When a user accesses the portal, the MSN platform detects the handset and optimizes the site for that device, adjusting things like font sizes for different screens.

Having recently switched to the Blackberry 8830, I’ve found new enjoyment in using my cell phone for mobile apps. While on Oahu, I’ve used it to look up restaurants, find driving directions and even used Google Maps to locate secret filming locations for Lost. There’s no doubt that with the upcoming iPhone about to ignite the mobile browser, 2007 continues to shape-up as the year mobile content finally makes its way towards mainstream.

Jobs More Than Teasing Mobile Developers

In his opening keynote at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday (June 11), Steve Jobs teased open the Web 2.0 door to mobile developers (with the safety chain well and truly left on!), revealing a slim ray of light from Apple’s impending smartphone sunrise on June 29, by announcing that mobile developers will be part of the success story.

Apple has been criticized by the mobile development community for refusing third-party access to the iPhone – unlike Windows Mobile from Microsoft, which provides application programming interfaces to developers – arguing that the best strategy to maintain security and high performance is to keep tight control over the iPhone’s OS.

But moments later Jobs halts the door from swinging wide open – confirming Apple’s strategy for third-party software on the smartphone will be based mainly on Apple’s Safari Web Browser and not so much on its native operating system.

The Latest in Mobile Marketing Efforts

More big brands are working on campaigns targeted to mobile users. Sprite is premiering a mobile social network, called the Sprite Yard. In fact, they launched last week in China, with the US debut planned for June 22.

The mobile social network enables its users to share photos, calendars, messages and discussions with other users. MediaPost mentions another feature:

At the Sprite Yard, users will also have access to “Nuggets” of exclusive downloadable content, from mobisodes (short animated and video content created by Coca-Cola and other media partners) to ringtones. The branding tie-in is designed to drive sales as well as engagement, as content can only be unlocked by using a PIN found under Sprite bottle caps.