TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Sprint and Microsoft Bring Convenience to Mobile Search

Sprint and Microsoft Bring Convenience to Mobile Search

David Garrett (
Tue, 28 Nov 2006 13:47:46 -0600

by David Garrett,

It's the day after Thanksgiving -- the biggest shopping day of the
year -- and you need a sandwich after a morning spent fighting the
crowds. If Sprint and Microsoft have their way, you won't use the
phone book to find it. You'll use your phone.

Last week, the two firms announced a partnership to bring Microsoft's
Windows Live Search, which returns local business information, to
Sprint phones.

How does it work? Just enter your address, zip code, or city and state
into your phone, along with a search term, such as "pastrami." In
response, you'll get a list of every sandwich shop and grocery store
in your neighborhood, as well as any ring tones, games, or
screensavers that deal with eating.

In the future, Sprint will add features that let the phone determine
your location and enter it for you, so you don't have to fumble with a
tiny keyboard.

"In recent years, the search box has fundamentally changed the way
people interact with the Internet, but we have only just begun to
scratch the surface for what search and live Internet services can do in
the mobile space," said Steve Berkowitz, senior vice president of
Microsoft's Online Services Group, in a statement.

Sticky Fingers

Berkowitz added that Sprint's new service is designed to give users
"the information they want, when they want it, where they are," in a
nod to the fact that today's gadget users expect their information to
move as quickly as they do.

William Ho, senior analyst at research firm Current Analysis, said
that Sprint and Microsoft are selling convenience and not merely
information. After all, local searching has always been available,
although with more effort. "A person on their Sprint phone would just
invoke their WAP browser and point their URL to Google," he said. (A
WAP browser is a Web browser designed for use on mobile phones.)

Now, users can search without a browser at all, reducing the effort it
takes to find information. The concept is known as stickiness --
keeping users within your service (or on your Web site) so they
consume more of what you're selling, without leaving to find it

It is a common strategy on the Web -- mobile and nonmobile alike. "If
you're a Yahoo user, all the links point within the Yahoo domain,"
said Ho. "Why would you go outside?"

More Minutes

Indeed, Sprint's new search feature might be sticky enough to entice
users to talk more. Once they find the restaurant or business they
want, they simply "click on it to make a call directly, as opposed to
copying the number down," said Ho.

Bottom line? Added convenience means more minutes. While the new
search features are free to current users of Sprint's data plans, the
extra time they spend talking is not. And that means a better bottom
line for Sprint.

Copyright 2006 NewsFactor Network, Inc.

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