Yahoo tunes in to TV and mobile

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Yahoo on Friday unveiled a bid to plant its services on new devices well beyond the PC, marking the most ambitious attempt yet by an internet company to use the TV and mobile phone to reach consumers.

The launch of its “Go” brand appeared to be a direct challenge to Microsoft, with Yahoo software, content and services being made available on the PC desktop without the need for a browser, on mobile phones and on televisions. This is in competition with Windows software and services, including Windows Mobile and Windows Media Center versions.

Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Terry Semel, Yahoo’s chairman, said he was seeking to link its content and communities with any device. “We think the internet isn’t a web page or a destination for your PC any more,” he said.

“It’s an infrastructure and a delivery vehicle for communications and experiences in entertainment, [it’s] about ease of use and open platforms that connect the internet to any device that you will be manufacturing.”

Demonstrations were given of “widgets” – small programs on the PC desktop that can show address books, calendars and search results – and a dashboard similar to the Google “sidebar” that offers information without the need to surf in a browser.

The Go TV service will display on TV sets connected to PCs, offering access to personal photos, music and videos, as well as recording and showing TV. The look is similar to Windows Media Center.

Go Mobile will be shipped on Nokia and Motorola handsets and will be offered by the carriers Cingular and AT&T in the US, as well as in markets abroad.

The mobile devices will have access to Yahoo’s instant messaging, e-mail services and internet search.

Microsoft’s rivals are making a raft of product announcements ahead of the release of its Vista operating system this year, which will offer similar functionality.

Larry Page, Google co-founder, was due to announce Google Pack and Google Video Store in a later keynote speech. Pack will offer free programs from Google and other software makers.

The Video Store represents a major step into selling content and partnering with media companies.

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