Yahoo!-Zed deal signals move into mobile services

Yahoo! is to enter the mobile phones market, following its investment in Finnish technology company Sonera Zed this week.

The portal has taken a 15 per cent stake in the company, a subsidiary of telecoms giant Sonera. The two companies have entered a commercial agreement to deliver co-branded mobile services across Europe, beginning in the UK, Germany, and Italy.

Initially, Yahoo! and Zed will introduce logos, ringtones, picture messages, chat and news, as well as Yahoo! Messenger and Yahoo! Mail.

Yahoo! Europe managing director Mark Opzoomer says: “We believe there are tremendous growth opportunities in value-added mobile services in Europe. Our objective, working with key mobile operators, is to become a significant player in this area.” The company is hoping to move into the mobile phone services market as it needs to find alternative revenues to advertising, on which it has traditionally relied. This year it introduced a paid-for e-mail service.

Sonera Zed uses text messages and WAP and has arrangements with 17 mobile operators in six European countries. As of June, it had an average of 3 million customers a month, executing approximately 30 million commercial transactions.

Zed’s range of products includes ringtones, logos, picture messages, games, chat, sports, directory, stock quotes, traffic reports, horoscopes, news, finance, movie guides, currency converters and restaurant guides.

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