Google takes another step into mobile Web

Japan's KDDI cellular carrier to use Google search for mobile Internet service

KDDI, Japan's No. 2 cellular carrier, will add a Google search box to its EZWeb mobile Internet service from July, the company said Thursday.

The service will mix results from the EZWeb service and conventional Internet with the latter reformatted and displayed through a PC site viewer. Data on the mobile Internet service will get priority in search results and direct links into Web sites will also be provided to offer quicker access to information, said KDDI at a Tokyo news conference.

Text ads related to search terms will also be displayed as part of the service.

The tie-up represents the latest step for Google into the mobile space. It's a potentially important market for the company because there are around twice as many cell phones in use in the world as personal computers and the cell phone market is growing faster, said Deep Nishar, mobile product management director for Google.

"In Japan alone at least 25 percent of Internet usage happens on a mobile device and 40 percent of users search for news or other information on a mobile phone," he said.

The deal could also be good for Google's visibility in the Japan market. Unlike other countries where it leads the search market, in Japan Google comes in well behind Yahoo Japan. In October, Yahoo's search service attracted about 25.6 million users against 12.5 million users for Google, according to data from NetRatings Japan Inc.

KDDI's cellular service, which is offered under the Au brand name, had 23 million users at the end of April. Of those 19.7 million people subscribed to the EZWeb service.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.