China Mobile, the largest wireless carrier in the world with more than 250 million mobile subscribers, announced a partnership with Google to develop a search engine to mobile terminals. According to GigaOM: “In Korea and Japan, typically hard markets to break into, the carrier deals are key — It’s the same with China. The China Mobile deal is also important because mobile subscribers in China seem to be more accepting of mobile advertisement (…) and the mobile is often a better way to reach audiences than PCs. Thanks to China Mobile Google’s mobile search just got in front of a lot more eyeballs.”
The deal should also help Google to strength its position as the search engine of choice for the Chinese users, since right now it is still behind the Baidu portal. Another move trying to revert this second position was Google’s acquisition of Xunlei Network Technologies, a file exchange network over the Internet that counts more than 80 million Chinese registered users.
Wang Jianzhou, chairman and Chief Executive Officer of China mobile, commented early in 2006: “I recently met with Google’s CEO for the second time. And we both share the same idea: how to turn cell phones into a new kind of internet search engine.” Sounds like they managed to reach a good deal since Google agreed to provide its technology for China Mobile’s WAP portal.
The search for information on mobile phones is a lucrative business, and it is growing quite fast. In 2006 it accounted for more than $22 million, registering a growth rate of 640% over 2005. There are estimations that this number will grow up to $100 million in 2008.