December 4, 2012
Web giant Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) is buying young online video chat service OnTheAir, according to an announcement today on OnTheAir's website. The terms of the agreement were not revealed, aside from the fact that five of the core members of the OnTheAir site will come over to Yahoo! to help it with its mobile division.
In a letter posted on the site, the OnTheAir team praised the "tremendous amount of energy" at Yahoo!, saying "there are big things to be done and great products to be built." They said it was clear to them that Yahoo! "is committed to making mobile products the backbone for the world’s daily habits."
OnTheAir launched in March. Yahoo! is taking steps to position itself in mobile, as competition from the likes of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) in that area intensifies.
Mobile is an enormously high-growth market that major and minor tech players alike are anxious to dip their beaks in. With the growth in Internet usage moderating -- it has grown at an estimated annual global rate of 8% in 2012 -- the growth in mobile access is exploding in the meantime. Smartphone users have grown by more than 40% globally in 2012, led by China and the U.S. OnTheAir's service could eventually be integrated into Yahoo! services in a way similar to how Google+ Hangouts are prominent on Google's platform.