Vodafone dumps Yahoo, pursues broader mobile ad strategy

As expected, Vodafone has dealt a major blow to Yahoo's recent run of successes in making its platforms the default for major operators. Vodafone will not renew its exclusive sales deal with Yahoo when it expires next month and will look to work with a range of mobile advertising partners rather than focusing on one.

Yahoo still stands a chance of grabbing Vodafone's European search deals with Google, which are also up for renewal in the middle of this year, though the cellco is increasingly working on its own redesigned portals, plans a new widget architecture and possibly a reworked app store.

"We might collaborate but Yahoo won't have exclusivity," said a Vodafone spokesman, though the operator denied it would bring mobile internet advertising in-house. This all fits in with the giant operator’s strategy of increasing its own power and brand prominence, seeking to keep web brands like Google in their place and the cellco as the main point of contact for the consumer.

February saw the launch of a revamped Yahoo Mobile, which unified all its mobile services under one interface, but this was not enough to keep Vodafone onside. Vodafone recently replaced its head of online advertising and rolled out a beta release of its own online portal, which will enable users to personalize content to a far greater extent, and set preferences that are consistent across PCs and mobiles.

Yahoo will now be pinning its hopes on becoming the default search engine on the home screens of Vodafone handsets around Europe. In March, financial news service Bloomberg reported that the two firms were in talks about replacing an agreement with Google.

In many respects, Yahoo has delivered a more advanced mobile web experience in recent times than its arch-rival Google, and has signed up many operators, especially in Asia (plus AT&T and T-Mobile). However, the recent upgrade of its platform de-emphasized search in favor of supporting multiple services and revenue streams, for Yahoo itself and its cellco partners.

Rethink Wireless