Microsoft, Verizon close to defining mobile search deals

Microsoft is moving closer to an agreement with Verizon Wireless to become the default search provider on the wireless carrier's mobile phones, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the discussions.

Under the terms being considered, Microsoft would share with Verizon revenue from ads shown in response to cell phone Web searches, with guaranteed payments to the carrier of about US$550 million to US$650 million over five years, roughly twice what Google offered, the people told the paper.

Separately, Microsoft is negotiating a deal to put its Windows Mobile software in more Verizon devices although it isn't clear if Microsoft is offering to pay Verizon to use Windows Mobile or would allow Verizon to use the software for free, the paper said.

The combined value of the two deals could top US$1 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This is new ground indeed for Microsoft - previously Yahoo has been the front runner in signing  deals with operators, many of them in Asia's booming markets.