T-Mobile USA Picks Yahoo! As Default Search Provider

Mirroring a deal that already exists in Europe, Yahoo! will become the default search provider for T-Mobile USA's new "Web2go" portal. (Medio has an existing deal with T-Mobile that will remain but is not about Web search.) Yahoo is now the default search provider on two of the four major US carriers; AT&T is the other one.

T-Mobile, of course, just released the G1 (the Google Phone). I was in a T-Mobile store last night in San Francisco and a plastic copy of the Google home page is prominently displayed on the front of the phone to let people know "this is the Google Phone." 

Google is competing with Microsoft for the default search provider role at Verizon. The most recent reports suggest that Microsoft has offered a sweater deal than Google and may win the business accordingly. Google and Microsoft both have relationships with Sprint, but Google is the preferred partner in that context. 

Yahoo now says it has similar deals with more than 80 carriers around the world and thus can reach something close to 850 million people.

Being a default search provider will boost share somewhat. But as browser-based smartphones increasingly penetrate the US and Europe, existing Internet habits may trump those relationships. (It's an "empricial question" that will be answered in time, especially if Microsoft wins the Verizon business.) However comScore found that the "carrier's search engine" -- the default provider -- accounted for more share than Microsoft and AOL in September in the US (21%). 

Using a smaller sample than comScore, the following were our findings from a US mobile user survey in August regarding mobile search market share:

mobile market share
Source: Opus Research/Multiplied Media (8/08, US mobile users)