New Yahoo tool gathers favorite Web places on mobiles
By Georgina Prodhan, European Technology Correspondent
HANOVER, Germany (Reuters) - Yahoo, still fending off a $42 billion takeover bid by Microsoft, unveiled a bookmarking tool on Tuesday that lets users keep track of favorite Web topics on their cell phones.
OnePlace, to be launched in the second quarter of this year, allows users to mark links, news feeds or search results that lead them to fresh information on favorite topics when clicked.
Bookmarking tools are anything but new -- Yahoo's own del.icio.us is one -- but Yahoo says mobile phones, with their small screens, require a different approach and far greater emphasis on sharing.
Yahoo is driving to outmaneuver Google's clear lead in computer search and advertising by custom-building elegant services for cell phone users and forming alliances with telecoms carriers.
OnePlace also leans on two other Yahoo mobile services -- OneSearch and OneConnect -- by tailoring the content behind the bookmarks to match the location of users and the preferences of friends and contacts who use the service.
"We're not reinventing forms of mobile content or getting into the content business but there are places where you have stuff that you care about, that you're passionate about, that you follow," said Marco Boerries, head of Yahoo's mobile drive.
"Whether it's in Facebook, in YouTube... it's all over the place and it's locked up on your PC."
Users will be able to gather their favorite Web places either by choosing them on their PC and then synchronizing with their cell phone, or directly on the mobile phone itself.
As with results from OneSearch, actual information rather than Web links, often awkward to negotiate on a cell phone, will be displayed as a matter of preference.
Boerries cited examples such as flight information, news about favorite music bands or sports teams, or local weather and restaurant reports as favorite things users might want to be updated on the go.
Customers would be able to access the service either through telecoms carriers who have deals with Yahoo such as Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica or Vodafone or directly download it from Yahoo, Boerries told Reuters.
"It's not Web links you can click on but it's smart bookmarks that are alive and will give you current information," he said in a telephone interview.
"There are 52 content types that OnePlace understands," he added, naming videos, cities, musicians, albums or stock prices as examples of categories. "For all of those types, we have implemented algorithms for what's most relevant for that type."
Users can also choose to automatically direct content they mark in social bookmarks manager del.icio.us, post on Facebook or star in Google newsreader to OnePlace, he said.
They can also sort their bookmarks by local relevance or popularity with friends and contacts.
(Additional reporting by Eric Auchard in San Francisco; editing by Elaine Hardcastle)