Yahoo Inc. (YHOO), the world's largest Internet media company, is unveiling a new service that allows mobile phones and TVs to control its Web services similarly to the way computers do now.
Chief Executive Terry Semel on Friday will describe the new products — marketed under the newly established Yahoo Go brand — in a speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the U.S. electronics industry's largest trade show.
The products include Yahoo Go Mobile and Yahoo Go TV. A third product, Yahoo Go Desktop, will tie the phone and TV services back to the most common way of using Yahoo services, which far and away remains the personal computer.
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.
"We want to connect to the three screens of [consumers'] lives: the mobile phone you always have with you, the big screen [TV] and the PC screen you have in the office," Marco Boerries, Yahoo's senior vice president in charge of the project, said ahead of Semel's speech.
The Yahoo Go service will be embedded on millions of Nokia phones sold worldwide, he said. Yahoo is also working with U.S. phone partners AT&T Inc. (T) 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 pre-installed.
Roughly 10 countries, including Britain, Germany, France, Singapore, India, Malaysia, the Philippines and Australia, are to follow in the first quarter, a spokeswoman said.
REGIONALLY, THEN IN 10 COUNTRIES
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.
[AT&T, formerly American Telephone and Telegraph, was recently absorbed by its own "child" SBC, formerly Southwestern Bell, which had previously gobbled up its sibling Pacific Bell.]
Cingular is the largest U.S. wireless carrier. It is jointly owned by AT&T and BellSouth Corp. (BLS), 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.
"Consumers want communications that revolve around them, not the other way around," Scott Helbing, AT&T chief consumer marketer, said in a joint statement.
Separately, Yahoo announced a worldwide deal to pre-install e-mail, instant messaging, address book and scheduling applications on millions of new Motorola mobile phones, including the sleek Razr model, during the first quarter.
Yahoo's ties to Nokia (NOK) began with a similar deal last June.