Yahoo to be pre-loaded onto "tens of millions" of Samsung phones

[Update: A Yahoo spokesperson helpfully provided details of their AT&T partnership, in response to my claim that Yahoo lacks strong carrier relationships: "We power mobile search on their portal, distribute Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Messenger and other mobile Web services with them. We also provide some of the advertising. Most recent example is that AT&T implemented Y! Search on their first Android device," the Motorola Backflip.

Moreover, they reminded me, AT&T removed Google search from the Google-powered Backflip, in order to make Yahoo the search tool of choice. OK, Yahoo dealmakers, I'm impressed.]

App stores are no substitute for what the mobile industry calls “on deck” placement, in which an application is pre-loaded onto a phone’s home screen or a top-level menu.

On-deck placement costs lots of money, plus it can take months of begging — er, negotiating with multiple wireless carriers and phone makers — in order to win an expensive deal.

Yahoo just announced the inking of such a deal with Samsung, the world’s second-largest handset maker. Only supergiant Nokia sells more phones. Yahoo and Samsung have had a partnership since 2007, but the new deal expands Yahoo’s presence onto millions and millions more Samsung phones.

An exclamation-point-riddled email from a Yahoo spokesperson says that “Samsung will distribute Yahoo! services, including Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Messenger, Yahoo! Front Page, Yahoo! Search, Yahoo! Flickr, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! Contacts, Yahoo! Calendar, and Yahoo! Weather on Samsung’s mobile devices globally, currently planned to begin in May 2010.”

A Yahoo-Samsung deal makes a lot of sense. Yahoo lacks strong wireless carrier relationships. Samsung doesn’t have a star smartphone. Putting the two together gives Yahoo outstanding placement in the world’s pockets and makes Samsung’s phones Internet-friendly right out of the box, no app downloads required.

Yahoo’s voice-driven mobile search, which is optimized for the sort of searches that mobile users make the most — restaurants, movies, air travel, businesses — will probably be competitive to Google among Samsung phone owners. There’s no placement like default placement.

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