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January 8, 2007

Mobile search gets competitive locally

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 3:45 PM

Today, Medio Systems announced it had added T-Mobile USA as a search partner for mobile phones. Here is a brief in today's paper.

The search capability is used on the phone's storefront, also called a deck. It allows users to search for ringtones, wallpaper and other content. It's also used for some local listings found in the White Pages and sports scores.

Medio, based in Seattle, has made significant progress recently, having secured $30 million in venture capital and winning some deals at major carriers. It also has deals at Verizon Wireless and Telus.

But its most recent success comes somewhat on the back of InfoSpace, which previously handled the search engine for T-Mobile, and is just across the pond in Bellevue.

On Friday, T-Mobile, also in Bellevue, said InfoSpace continues to be a partner.

An InfoSpace spokeswoman gave a little more detail today on what that means. She said InfoSpace is no longer handling search for T-Mobile, but continues to be an infrastructure provider. It provides some of the guts behind T-zones and the company's storefront. The company continues to power Cingular Wireless' search engine on its portal, and provides a mobile search application called Find It! to Sprint Nextel.

The loss of the T-Mobile business, however, is only the latest in a string of bad news for InfoSpace, which as recently as this summer wanted to focus exclusively on the wireless industry.

The biggest blow was when a carrier, widely assumed to be Cingular, decided go directly to music labels to get ringtones instead of using InfoSpace as a middleman. Since then, the company has reorganized to focus less on mobile content, and more on mobile infrastructure and its online business.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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